He’s a father. A son. A brother. A friend.
Kwame Malik Kilpatrick was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He was educated in the Detroit Public School System, and earned a football scholarship to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. At FAMU, Kwame was Captain of the Rattler Football Team and also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Kwame returned to his hometown after graduating (with honors) from FAMU in 1993 (B.S. Political Science/Public Administration), and began teaching 7th and 8th grade Math and Social Studies at the Marcus Garvey Academy. He also started a Basketball Team and Boy Scout Troop at the school.
He always said “Teaching young people was the best job I ever had, and also the best job I ever did.” His school workday was from 7:00AM-7:00PM; teaching, coaching, tutoring, mentoring, and caring for his students. Kwame also started law school during this time. He earned a law degree (Juris Doctor) from the Michigan State University College of Law.
Kwame sits on dads lap as his mom Carolyn signs her pledge, as she is officially sworn into the Michigan House of Representatives in 1978.
Carlita with Jelani and Jalil on National Signing Day
That work ethic and tenacity came from his parents; Bernard and Carolyn Kilpatrick, who were both teachers before entering public office themselves. Bernard Kilpatrick was a long-time Wayne County (Detroit) Commissioner and an appointee of the Wayne County (Detroit) Executive (Ed McNamara).
Carolyn Kilpatrick served 18-years in the Michigan House of Representatives, and 14-years in the United States Congress. Public Service was in Kwame’s blood.
Kwame was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November of 1996. He was the only freshman legislator to Chair a House Committee. Two-years later, his colleagues elected him Floor Leader.
In the year 2000, his colleagues elected him Democratic Leader of the Michigan House of Representatives, (the 2nd highest position of House Leadership). He was the first African-American to earn that position in the 175-year history of the Michigan Legislature. Kwame was also the youngest person ever elected to that position as well. He was 30-years old.
At 31-years old, Kwame Kilpatrick was elected Mayor of the City of Detroit (Michigan), and served in that office for nearly 7-years. He experienced high highs and great successes…and unfortunately, he also experienced some very low lows and great failures as well. He would resign from the position in September of 2008, because of a scandal involving marital infidelity.
On March 11, 2013 (nearly 5-years after leaving Detroit, and moving to Dallas, Texas), Kilpatrick was found guilty in Federal Court, and later sentenced to 28-years in federal prison, for a plethora of crimes relating to public corruption.
Kwame maintains that he is Not-Guilty of any of the charges for which he was convicted, and is passionate about getting his story, his perspective, and The Truth about what happened in Detroit to the world.
Humbled by his mistakes and the great calamities in his life; the loss of his marriage of 23-years, his career, his freedom, and the separation from his sons, parents, sisters, family, and friends, Kwame cried out to the Lord, and accepted Christ on June 9, 2014.
Kwame with current cell mate Ernest Howard (Fort Worth, TX) and Kenneth Evans. Kwame wrote Cotton’s Clemency request from Barack Obama, removing a Life Sentence for a Non-Violent Drug Conviction.
Also, Kwame has written three Clemency applications for men with Life Sentences who received Clemency from President Barack Obama. He has also written numerous Habeas Motions for men in prison, who have received reductions of their prison sentences, and even their freedom.
From growing up in Detroit, to his unprecedented rise in politics at a young age, to his struggles of balancing Faith, Family, and Career, to meetings in the Oval Office with Presidents Clinton and Bush…as well as enduring the great pain of incarceration and separation from his family, to the challenge of raising three African-American men in today’s social climate from behind bars, to seeing men killed on a prison yard, to being locked in solitary confinement for months, to counseling men while working suicide watch…
Kwame Kilpatrick has been persuaded to move forward in his life with courage, determination, and confident expectation that God will provide. His unique perspective, warmth, humor, fervent enthusiasm, and commitment to service has encouraged many in his family, and also behind prison bars, to Be Free…to be Free Indeed.
“Love does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.”
1 Corinthians 13:6
JOIN THE MOVEMENT & HELP #FREEKWAME
Freedom and Justice Trust