Kwame Kilpatrick: From politics to prison to the pulpit

by Gatini Tinsley

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick spoke at Little Rock Baptist Church on Sunday, June 13, in his first high-profile appearance since his release from prison on January 20.

Kilpatrick delivered a message of redemption that started with the importance of having faith, talking to God, and believing that God hears your prayers.

“I know you think sometimes that your prayers don’t get through, but if you are righteous, if you’ve been called if you’ve been justified by faith; if you know right now, with everything in you, that you’ve already been glorified and you sent up a word for little old Kwame Kilpatrick, I’m here to tell you, they got through. Thank you, thank you, thank you, the former mayor jubilantly exclaimed.

Churchgoers gave Kilpatrick numerous standing ovations during the service and routinely cheered his name. Some even expressed how thrilled they were to see the former mayor given a second chance after completing approximately seven years of his original 28-year sentence.

Former member of Michigan House of Representatives Sherry Gay-Dagnogo claimed the day a great day of redemption.

“This is a great day; this is a day of redemption; this is what it was all about in the first place. It’s about criminal justice reform, and not just for the former mayor, but for everyone. I’m glad to have been a part of an expungement package that provides clean slates for many citizens throughout the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan, to be exact. Michigan is leading the way; I’m glad that my bill, public act 188, is a part of that package, said Dagnogo.

She continued, “Kwame is a reminder that it’s important that we lift up second chances and opportunities to allow someone to get their lives on track. I’m excited about today, the former mayor texted me around 6:30 this morning. I said I will be here, looking for God to speak through him today.”

When Dagnogo was asked by Real Times Media Digital anchor Andre Ash, what she thought of Kilpatrick taking the church route, she said, “Faith is at the epicenter of who we are, we could not have made it felt the trans-Atlantic slave trade if it were not for the faith of our forefathers. We are where you should go when facing challenging times, back to the rock, and that’s where we are today, at Little Rock Baptist Church.

Kilpatrick’s sermon titled “Its Not Time To Die” drew inspiration from his time in prison and the importance of remaining faithful and not giving up. Something Kilpatrick said he struggled with during his time in federal prison.

“I was in prison mad at God. But I learned that it’s alright to be honest with God because he knows anyway.”

The former mayor continued, “at that time we didn’t have nothing, we got all our information from whatever we saw on TV. We wasn’t social distancing, we were all together, until the first person died, the the second person in my unit died and I’m watching them drag him out, then the sixth person. I watched 18 people in my unit go on ventilators and nine people in my prison died. I’m sitting there, and then one day it hit me, I can’t taste or smell, I’m tired, I got that thing they’re talking about, but it’s not time to die.”

Kilpatrick wrapped up his sermon with cheers from the congregation after he asked parishioners to take a moment to recommit to God. He then quickly exited from the side door of the building without taking any questions from the media.

Latonya Right, a Member of Little Rock Baptist Church, said, “Kwame’s sermon was inspirational, to any, really all of us who have ever needed or desired a second chance.”

Former Mayor Kilpatrick served as the youngest mayor ever elected in Detroit from 2002 to 2008 before he resigned. He was found guilty in 2013 on 24 federal felony counts that include racketeering, wire fraud, perjury, obstruction of justice, and mail fraud. He was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison by U.S. district judge Nancy Edmunds. Kilpatrick also served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1997 to 2002.

Shortly after Kilpatrick’s mayoral term, the city of Detroit faced nationwide criticism after slipping into bankruptcy in July 2013, from what some believe is in part due to Kilpatrick’s misuse of funds and criminal offenses.

Though Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison, former republican President Donald J. Trump commuted the former mayor’s sentence when he granted him clemency earlier this year.

Kilpatrick now lives in Georgia and plans to pursue an education in ministry.

Kwame Kilpatrick: From Politics to Prison to the Pulpit

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