Since it was announced student organization Black Leaders Aspiring to Critical Knowledge asked Kwame Kilpatrick, former mayor of Detroit, to speak in the Student Center ballroom, emotions have flared up. Several students protested his appearance, others defended the right to speak and this issue received heightened exposure.
Black Entertainment Television and news channels have been referencing the lecture recently, and Eastern Michigan University’s decision to allow Kilpatrick to speak has been a controversial topic for debate. In the end, his lecture seemed to lack some details that might have helped his case.
Although several students seemed to have an issue with the appearance of Kilpatrick, censorship should not be approved of within a university. While the subject matter is sensitive and many people still feel angry about the crimes committed, asking Kilpatrick to speak is completely within the rights of B.L.A.C.K.
B.L.A.C.K. was unfairly judged by other university students, and some believed this event was a bad idea. However, this student organization should not be held in contempt due to anger inspired from Kilpatrick’s crimes.
Several hundred people attended the event and listened to the lecture, and Kilpatrick was not paid to speak. EMU officials did not sponsor or help develop this event, but simply stated student organizations are allowed to invite speakers and hold events.
Kilpatrick had a huge following in the crowd during his lecture, with many people clapping and cheering at his words. However, it’s unclear how much this would have affected his confidence, as he made the point he doesn’t care what people say about him.
Apparently, he believes forgiving himself and doing jail time is enough to pay for his crimes. Somehow, I doubt the city of Detroit agrees. Stealing taxpayer’s money while mayor of a financially unstable major city is morally questionable not only because of the issue of theft, but complete disregard of how this would affect constituents.
It’s especially disturbing a man whose entire career was based around making the city of Detroit a better place could steal from people who are seeing increasing financial burdens, along with crime problems.
Not surprisingly, Kilpatrick made attempts to downplay his wrongdoings as mayor.
He focused on how the people of Detroit are unhappy as a group, and how many problems are stemming from racial issues. He failed to note a source of unhappiness for several people is insufficient income – a problem he did little to solve.
Kilpatrick also mentioned focusing on his criminal actions is impeding the city of Detroit from making progress, but this is an unfair statement. Any group of people that had money stolen from them by a politician they are supposed to trust would be outraged at this theft.
Ironically, Kilpatrick said he would willingly aid current mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, in political matters. This is a fairly humorous statement, as any politician striving to make constituents happier and a city a better place to live should pointedly avoid the advice of criminals.
A press conference followed the lecture, and when controversial questions involving the acceptance of bribes arose, Kilpatrick left the area. As a man who is asking for a second chance, it seems strange he would be unwilling to explain or defend himself.
Kilpatrick also likened the position of mayor of Detroit to the position as president of the United States, saying the presidency is the only tougher career. It might have been easier on him to occupy public office if he refrained from stealing from the city and receiving backlash as a result.