Kwame Kilpatrick Biography
As a young boy Kwame knew that he wanted to serve his community. His family placed a high value on community involvement and outreach. Growing from a bright yet shy boy to a charismatic yet polarizing public figure, Kilpatrick is a hero and martyr to some and a villain and menace to others.
His formidable years were spent on the west side of Detroit. He received his formal education from the Detroit Public School system and his informal one from various campaign offices. Kilpatrick excelled in the classroom while learning the ins and outs of politics.
After graduating in 1988 from Cass Technical high school and receiving a full athletic scholarship Kilpatrick matriculated to Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, FL. His mental strength and capacity were tested not just in the classroom, but more so on the football field having to endure two-a-days practice in the above 100-degree Tallahassee heat and humidity. While others quit from such extreme environmental, biological and mental stress, Kilpatrick and his 6’4’’ 300lb frame went on to become an All-American Offensive lineman for the mighty Rattlers of FAMU. Kilpatrick also became a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc, at FAMU’s Beta Nu Chapter. He received his B.S. in Political Science and his teacher certification (with honors) in 1993, and returned home to begin his life of service to his community. He began as a teacher, mentor and coach at the Marcus Garvey Academy on Detroit’s eastside.
In 1996 he made his transition from educator to politician following in his mother’s footsteps as a State Representative in the Michigan House. His ability to build strong bi-partisan coalitions led him to become the youngest and first African American Leader of the Michigan State Legislature in its history. In addition to policy making he also found time to earn his Law Degree from the Michigan State University Law School.
In his third term as State Representative, Kilpatrick decided that he would run for mayor of his beloved city. Most said that he was too young, but at age 31 years old in the face of his detractors he was elected Detroit’s 60th Mayor in 2001, becoming its youngest elected as well.
As a man humbled by the power of love and forgiveness, Kilpatrick recently wrote “the awesome and humbling thing about re-birth is that I get to maintain and utilize all of the knowledge from the achievements as well as failures from my former life without carting around the pride, guilt or shame from it. There is however, a caveat to this process- forgiveness of everyone, not just yourself, is mandatory. I would not truly be a new creature if I decided to forgive myself but harbored unforgiveness of others. If I am new then all of the former things have passed away.”
Kilpatrick is an author, educator, thought leader and public speaker. He has been married for nearly 17 years to Carlita Kilpatrick (FAMU Rattler ‘92). They are the proud parents of three sons. Kilpatrick is member of The Potter’s House Church in Dallas, TX where he and his family now reside. He enjoys reading, writing, golf and spending time with family.