Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Kilpatrick, Kwame

Detroit’s 60th mayor, Kwame M. Kilpatrick, was born in 1970 in Detroit, Michigan. His mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, was a representative in the United States House of Representatives until 2010. Kwame Kilpatrick graduated from Cass Technical High School and went off to Florida A&M University. There he was captain of the football team and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and a teaching certification. Kilpatrick earned his law degree from the Michigan State University College of Law.

Returning to Detroit, Kilpatrick taught middle school at Marcus Garvey Academy before he was elected as a state representative. As a state representative, Kilpatrick was the youngest person and first African-American elected to lead a party in the Michigan Legislature when he was elected to lead the House Democratic Caucus.

In 2001 Kwame Kilpatrick was elected as Mayor of the City of Detroit, the youngest person ever to hold that post. Christened the “Hip-Hop” Mayor, his first term was dogged by scandal and charges of poor administration. However, after a bruising campaign he was re-elected in 2005 after narrowly defeating Detroiter Freeman Hendrix.

In February 2006, Kilpatrick joined other city leaders in hosting Super Bowl XL, which was deemed an unqualified success. In January 2008, scandal once again caught up to Kilpatrick, as he was indicted on eight felony counts of alleged perjury and obstruction of justice by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. A criminal case is pending. In August 2008, with the other court case still pending, Kilpatrick was charged by the Michigan Attorney General with two additional felony counts in a separate case.

On Thursday September 4, 2008, Kilpatrick pled guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and pled no contest to one count of assault.  He also resigned his position as Mayor of the City of Detroit, effective September 18, 2008. 

Kwame Kilpatrick and his wife, Carlita, have three sons, twins named Jelani and Jalil, and their younger brother, Jonas.