EPISODE TEN

Right Here, Right Now

Detroit mayoral candidate Kwame Kilpatrick cheers with family and supporters on election day in 2001.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit mayoral candidate Kwame Kilpatrick cheers with family and supporters on election day in 2001. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

When Mayor Coleman Young dies after twenty years in office, he leaves a yawning vacuum in Detroit’s power structure. But a successor quickly arises: a young, ambitious state legislator named Kwame Kilpatrick. He’s charismatic, larger than life, and has an impeccable political pedigree. There’s only one person who can stop Kwame Kilpatrick: himself.

LISTEN TO EPISODE TEN


THE FAMILY

From a very young age, Kwame Kilpatrick, right, helped out with his parents’ political campaigns, handing out campaign materials and attending rallies.  Courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith.

From a very young age, Kwame Kilpatrick, right, helped out with his parents’ political campaigns, handing out campaign materials and attending rallies. Courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith.

At age nine, after winning a black studies contest at school, Kwame met Coleman Young at the Manoogian Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of Detroit. It was there that Kwame first dreamt of one day becoming mayor.  Courtesy of Carolyn Kilpatrick.

At age nine, after winning a black studies contest at school, Kwame met Coleman Young at the Manoogian Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of Detroit. It was there that Kwame first dreamt of one day becoming mayor. Courtesy of Carolyn Kilpatrick.

His background got him ready. This guy was out here, handing out leaflets, talking to people when he was 11.
— Bernard Kilpatrick
Kwame’s mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, had served in the Michigan state legislature for nearly two decades when she decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. At the age of 26, Kwame decided to run for his mother’s seat in the state house.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Kwame’s mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, had served in the Michigan state legislature for nearly two decades when she decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. At the age of 26, Kwame decided to run for his mother’s seat in the state house. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Kwame’s father, Bernard, had built his political career advising campaigns and working in a series of roles in the Wayne County government.  Courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith.

Kwame’s father, Bernard, had built his political career advising campaigns and working in a series of roles in the Wayne County government. Courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith.


Up there in the ice

Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick raises her arms in triumph on Jan. 6, 1997 on her way to work in Washington DC. "This is it, this is my new office," she exclaimed. "We made it."  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick raises her arms in triumph on Jan. 6, 1997 on her way to work in Washington DC. "This is it, this is my new office," she exclaimed. "We made it." Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

State representative Kwame Kilpatrick talks on the phone while watching the vote board during a session of the Michigan House of Representatives in March 1999.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

State representative Kwame Kilpatrick talks on the phone while watching the vote board during a session of the Michigan House of Representatives in March 1999. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Kwame screams "Aye" during the passage of a bill at the Capitol in Lansing, October 24, 2001.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Kwame screams "Aye" during the passage of a bill at the Capitol in Lansing, October 24, 2001. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Kwame talks with a colleague on the floor of the House in March 1999.   He developed a reputation for working across racial and party lines.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Kwame talks with a colleague on the floor of the House in March 1999. He developed a reputation for working across racial and party lines. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

It’s almost like he enjoyed going in the areas that black folks had never been.
— Bernard Kilpatrick

Right here, Right now

Detroit mayoral candidate Kwame Kilpatrick tries to rally campaign workers after nearly 14 hours of campaigning on October 24, 2001.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit mayoral candidate Kwame Kilpatrick tries to rally campaign workers after nearly 14 hours of campaigning on October 24, 2001. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

I told everybody I was running for mayor. And from that day forward, my life has been going 100 miles an hour.
— Kwame Kilpatrick
Campaign manager Christine Beatty, center, jokes with Kwame during the campaign.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Campaign manager Christine Beatty, center, jokes with Kwame during the campaign. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Kwame secured the endorsement of Vivica A. Fox, pictured here with Kwame and his wife, Carlita.  Courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith.

Kwame secured the endorsement of Vivica A. Fox, pictured here with Kwame and his wife, Carlita. Courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith.

The Kilpatrick campaign devised the slogan “Our Future…Right Here, Right Now” to emphasize Kwame’s youth.  Courtesy of WXYZ.

The Kilpatrick campaign devised the slogan “Our Future…Right Here, Right Now” to emphasize Kwame’s youth. Courtesy of WXYZ.


PRIMARY DAY

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Detroit_Free_Press_Wed__Sep_12__2001_.jpg

Following the attacks of September 11, Gil Hill played up his experience in public safety and security, as in this ad where he touts his endorsement from the Detroit Police Officers Association.

Gil Hill shakes hands with a congregation member at Plymouth Congregational Church in Detroit on Sunday, November 4, 2001 two days before the general election.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Gil Hill shakes hands with a congregation member at Plymouth Congregational Church in Detroit on Sunday, November 4, 2001 two days before the general election. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.


A Very Lonely Position

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I was like, ‘Oh my God, I actually won this job. I don’t know how to be mayor.’
— Kwame Kilpatrick
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick addresses students, teachers, and administrators during a community reception at his alma mater Cass Tech High School during his inaugural week in 2002.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick addresses students, teachers, and administrators during a community reception at his alma mater Cass Tech High School during his inaugural week in 2002. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

In his inaugural remarks, Kwame called upon Detroiters to “rise up” to the challenges facing the city. Among his priorities were to reorganize the police department and expand after school programs.


EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. This season is made in partnership with Gimlet Media and Spotify. This episode was produced by John White, Soraya Shockley, Rob Szypko, and Samantha Lee. The senior producer is Drew Nelles. Editing by Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling. Fact-checking by Jennifer Blackman. This episode was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Robin Shore. Original music this season composed by Homer Steinweiss. We recorded some original music at Rustbelt Studios in Detroit in partnership with Detroit Sound Conservancy. Special thanks to Carleton Gholz and Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd. Additional music by Kenny Kusiak, John Kusiak, and additional mixing by Bobby Lord. Our theme song is “Politicians In My Eyes” by Death.



Our credit music this week is “True Story Pt. 2” by Phat Kat. Archival research by Brennan Rees. Archival courtesy of Tim and Tobias Smith. They have a film called “KMK: A Documentary of Kwame Kilpatrick.” Check it out. Additional archival material courtesy of WXYZ, the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, and the Detroit Historical Society. Show art and design by James Cabrera and Elise Harven. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, Peter Bhatia, Jim Schaeffer, Mary Schroeder, Mary Wallace, Max White, Randy Lundquist, Erick Hetherington at D&D Video, Devin Scillian, Melissa Samson, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Khary and Tunesia Turner, Miles Feldsott, and everyone who shared their stories with us. Detroit is an amazing place, and we’re honored to tell a small part of its story.