James Kilgore, who is on the verge of losing an adjunct position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, got the chance Wednesday to speak directly to the university's board about his controversial past. Kilgore has been receiving good reviews, and every indication that he could return, but that changed after publicity over his past (about which he privately had informed the university when he was hired) with the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the jail time he served as a result. In his remarks, he spoke of the need for adjuncts to have job security and transparent evaluation systems, and he urged board members not to write people off because of a criminal past.
Kilgore also addressed his own role with a violent group. "As a young man I committed acts of which I stand ashamed, acts which were not only illegal, but utterly destructive to innocent members of the community and damaging to my family, loved ones and all those who campaigned for social justice and peace. For more than three decades I have attempted to move beyond those acts, to chart a different road, working through non- violent means as an educator in the cause of social justice," he said. He added that like "many people who have traveled errant pathways, have learned lessons which are important for young people to know. Who better to tell someone how to avoid a destructive path than someone who has walked that path? And what better place for young people to learn these lessons than in the most esteemed universities in the land, like the University of Illinois?"
Kilgore's reappointment is currently under review by administrators.