Kwame Kilpatrick's "Second Chances" Speech at Eastern Michigan University Stirs Controversy

The visit is part of the former Detroit Mayor’s national book tour.

Posted: 11/22/2011 08:22 AM EST
Kwame Kilpatrick,Eastern Michigan University,speech

Embattled former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been out of prison for just a few months and has resettled in Texas where he’s been paroled, but he continues to stir controversy back home in Michigan. Kilpatrick is scheduled to deliver a speech on second chances at Eastern Michigan University on Nov. 29, and some of the school's students are opposed to his visit.


They’ve made their feelings known in the campus newspaper’s The Eastern Echo, and they are not mincing words. In addition, a Facebook page opposing Kilpatrick’s speech that features his image with an X stamped on his face has been created.


“This is the most disgusting thing I’ve heard thus far. Why on earth would our school allow such a degrading character come to the school and even speak on such a matter!” one student wrote. “For Christ sakes, he is still under investigation! He’s a criminal. What kind of message are they trying to send? That it’s okay to become a felon, as long as you forgive yourself and convince others to forgive you as well? EMU, good luck with that! Hope the Feds don’t come crashing down the event as he speaks.”


Nicholas Patterson, president of the local chapter of Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge, the student association sponsoring Kilpatrick, said that the former mayor is the “perfect person to speak about second chances” and suggested that his remarks could help others now or in the future.


Students aren’t the only ones who are angry. According to The Detroit News, an EMU alumni member is considering organizing a protest during the visit.


“I think [the visit by Kilpatrick] has deep ramifications on the prestige of the university," 2005 graduate Brandon Pomish told the publication. “He’s not a role model. What Kwame Kilpatrick did to our city, our state and our region is an embarrassment. Not enough time has passed that the wounds have healed in the region.”


Kilpatrick is on parole after serving 14 months in prison for violating the terms of his probation in a 2008 obstruction of justice case in which he was convicted of lying under oath about an affair with his chief of staff.


Kilpatrick has been touring the nation to promote his book Surrendered: The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick. He made headlines last week as a result of a move during the summer into a new home that is reportedly larger than the mayor’s mansion that he lived in while in office. It likely will prompt closer scrutiny of his finances, since he maintains he can only pay $150 per month in restitution to the city.


Kilpatrick still faces federal indictments alleging racketeering and embezzlement and will be tried next year on charges of public corruption. Several of his friends are also mired in his legal problems. Last week, close friend Bobby Ferguson was charged with money laundering and allegedly gave $10,000 to Kilpatrick in a public restroom as part of a kickback scheme, The Detroit Free Press reports. On Monday Ferguson’s attorney said he would not consider a plea deal to testify against others in what is being called the "Kilpatrick Enterprise” of criminal wrongdoing that allegedly includes Kilpatrick, his father and the former head of the city’s water and sewerage department.

(Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)