By Vickie Thomas

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick breezed into town for two book signings this week leaving in his wake a storm of controversy.  Some 700 supporters packed into Citadel of Praise church on the city’s west side last night for a conversation and question and answer session with Kilpatrick.

It was his first public appearance in the city since being release from prison a few months ago.  He was well received at the church with supporters chanting his name.  At a Detroit bar Monday night things got off to a slow start but by the time I left, about two hundred people dropped in and stood in line to get signed copies of his book, “Surrendered…The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick.”

At that event, I conducted an exclusive interview with the ex-mayor who still faces federal corruption charges stemming from the city hall pay to play scandal.  Most of the calls received in the WWJ newsroom were critical of Kilpatrick’s visit and I received what could be best described as hate mail/comments for broadcasting the interview.

Click below to listen to the interview…
[cbs-audio url=”″ name=”Kwame Kilpatrick Interview” artist=”Vickie Thomas”]

Yes he is a convict and an admitted adulterer.  And yes, he still owes the city big bucks and could be going back to federal prison, depending on the outcome of an anticipated trial next year.  And, for all of those reasons and the fact that he is the former mayor of Detroit, it’s still a legitimate news story.

In preparation for the interview, I read his the book from cover to cover.  As a reporter who covered Kilpatrick’s nearly seven years as mayor, it was very enlightening.  Following are some excerpts that I found interesting:

Of former mayor Dennis Archer Kilpatrick writes:

“He didn’t embrace the ups, the downs, and the passion of the city.  It just wasn’t his style, and that kind of thing is reserved for very few men.  Coleman Young was one, for sure-in fact, the biggest.  And damn sure, Kwame Kilpatrick was another.  People felt us the way they feel Detroit, they love us and hate us.  But I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dennis Archer to this day, regardless of how he feels about me.”

During a string of child murders in Detroit he viewed the body of one of the victims who looked like his own son.  Kilpatrick writes:

“I made it back to the car and broke down crying…That was all I could take, and with the Police Chief’s concern for my well-being, that was the last scene I visited…I wasn’t quite myself after that.  I should have seen a psychiatrist.”

About the job of running the city Kilpatrick writes:

“The stress was incredible, and we all suffered under it.  Zeke’s (Derrick Miller) hair began falling out.  He gained twenty pounds and had to see a doctor.  Christine became anemic.  She’d later develop cancer.”

In involving his twelve-year-old twin boys in his decision to accept a plea deal in the county case against him, Kilpatrick writes:

“Jelani rose to his feet, and assumed a spokesperson’s role,  What he said inspires me to this day

‘Dad, Jalil and I want to move forward.  We love Detroit, but it’s time for all of us to go.  We are tired of seeing our mother unhappy and crying all the time.  And we want to come back together as a family.’  He looked at his brother and then continued.  ‘Dad, I can handle being the leader of this house for 120 days, but I can’t do it for five years.  I got Mama.  And I got my brothers.  We will stand strong, Dad.  We love you.’ 

My oldest son broke me down in a way that I didn’t know was possible.”

That kind of reasoning by a twelve-year-old makes you wonder if Kilpatrick will accept a plea deal in the federal case against him.


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