Where was Kwame Kilpatrick?
What’s up fam, I am still smarting from the passage of Proposal 2, a ballot initiative that bans affirmative action programs in Michigan in higher education, public employment, and contracting. However, I am deeply troubled by the eerie silence I noticed from Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick. As Detroit’s representative, of a populace that is overwhelmingly in support of affirmative action, I expected Kilpatrick to be more integrated in the campaign to keep affirmative action.
Now I am under no illusions that Kilpatrick’s increased visibility would have turned the electoral tides but his silence I think is indicative of a widespread feeling that was whispered throughout the progressive community before the election; “I think Proposal 2 is going to pass so what’s the point of going all out to defeat it?”
In fact, the only commercial I heard featuring Kwame was his speaking in support of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jennifer Granholm. Kilpatrick was not up for reelection and just recently accomplished one of the greatest political comebacks in Detroit political history. So if anyone can help inspire hope in the face of insurmountable odds, Kilpatrick is the man.
Kilpatrick’s lack of leadership pains me because while I don’t have any sources, my hunch is that there was some political blackmail that silenced his efforts to speak out against Proposal 2.
While I was preparing to write this piece, Garlin sent me an article that highlighted Kilpatrick’s stance on affirmative action. The article states that at a Kilpatrick said at a fundraiser, “We will affirm to the world that affirmative action will be here today, it will be here tomorrow, and there will be affirmative action in the state forever.” And as Garlin pointed out to me, this quote was said in the spirit of, “at least I am on record.” Being a proponent of affirmative action is not effective at a fundraiser. It needs to be explained to folks that can’t afford to make political donations.
My discontent stems from the fact that Kilpatrick is an amazing campaigner and I think his presence would have really inspired people to get off the sidelines. I could just imagine the impact of having the TV cameras follow Kilpatrick going door-to-door explaining to Detroit citizens why they should vote no on Proposal 2. Seeing that would be considerably more helpful to our efforts than some watered down statement made at a political fundraiser.
So where was Kwame?