NewsBlack History Month

First Black woman Michigan Supreme Court justice sits down with Glenda Lewis

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 09:21:48-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — “I understand the weight of this job, I understand the decisions that I’m making and it is such an honor and a privilege to be one of seven people — equal partners — in making decisions about what Michiganders will do and how they will live their lives,” Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kyra Harris Bolden said.

Newly appointed Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bolden joined 7 Action News in Broadcast House in her hometown of Southfield where she and her family still reside. The Southfield-Lathrup High School graduate gives the city full credit for the rich diversity in her background and the drive to accomplish her dreams.

WXYZ’s Glenda Lewis asked, “Does it surprise you that we're still in 2023 and having firsts for African Americans?”

Bolden responded, “I know that it’s a reality of what we’re in and I know that it should be celebrated but in 2023, I think that it’s unacceptable to still be having first, but I understand what it means to a lot of people, what it means for representation for little boys, little girls to see someone that looks like them on the highest court in the state of Michigan.”

You could say her warm aura and pleasant smile surrounds the fire in her soul. Bolden was studying to be a psychologist, but it was a conversation with her great-grandmother while in college at Grand Valley State University that revealed who she really is: a product of great injustice.

“She shared with me before she passed the story of my great-grandfather, who was lynched in Tennessee in 1939 in Arlington, Tennessee. He was asking the store owner for a receipt and this incited a lynch mob. And he was beaten and castrated and thrown into the local river and the coroner and as a result, his murderers walked free. I am so fortunate that the story that was shared with me changed the trajectory of my life,” Bolden said.

Some of the best days of her life, she says, were had in law school at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Lawyer Bolden was then elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2018 and spent many years being mentored by the very Michigan Supreme Court justice she would eventually replace — the seat of former Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

“She has been a long-time mentor of mine. Her campaign was one of the first campaigns I’ve ever worked on,” Bolden said.

“I’m hoping to accomplish the continued good decision making, first and foremost. I mean, honestly again, this is such a powerful position that a lot of people don’t get to occupy and so for me, that’s what’s next,” Bolden said.

“To make sure that while I may be the first, that I’m not the last.”

As a first-time mom to 5-month-old Emerson, some of her most important rulings start at home.

“Being a mommy to my 5-month-old is very high on my list. Making sure she’s taken care of and working hard in this new role is also very, very important,” Bolden said.