Michigan’s First Black Woman Supreme Court Justice


In a candid conversation that delved into personal history and professional accomplishments, Kyra Bolden, a trailblazing figure in Michigan’s legal and political spheres, shared her journey and insights. Beginning with her childhood roots in Southfield, Michigan, Kyra recounted how her upbringing in a middle-class, majority-minority community endowed her with a sense of boundless possibilities. Growing up around doctors, lawyers, and business owners who looked like her, Kyra developed an innate self-assuredness that was rare for someone of her background. It was a unique environment that shielded her from the harsher realities of racism until she transitioned to college, where she confronted her minority status and the racism that sometimes accompanied it.

Kyra’s college years, set in a largely unfamiliar milieu, proved to be pivotal. She shared how her perspective changed through interactions and experiences that exposed her to new aspects of societal dynamics. Being a tutor for an after-school program opened her eyes to the significance of representation. Witnessing young black girls’ doubts about their future due to a lack of role models, Kyra recognized the urgency of offering them tangible examples of achievement. Her own story became a source of inspiration for those who needed to see that success was attainable for them as well.

Another incident, when a fellow student made a tasteless joke about being from Detroit, struck a chord. It crystallized the prejudices some harbored and the stereotypes that Kyra, now acutely aware, would continue to combat. Furthermore, her great-grandfather’s tragic history – he was lynched in 1939 – propelled Kyra towards a renewed focus on justice and advocacy. The realization that systemic injustices were interwoven into her own family history fueled her drive to change the trajectory for her community.

Kyra’s journey into law and politics was an organic progression. With a psychology degree underway, her encounter with two young black girls questioning if girls like them could go to college underscored the necessity of representation. This experience, coupled with her drive to create change, led Kyra to transition into law school. She practiced law, becoming a voice for justice and change within her community. Her successful endeavors in criminal defense and as a civil litigator were a testament to her dedication and skill.

From state representative to the Michigan Supreme Court, Kyra’s journey continued to be defined by her commitment to equity and justice. She recalled being convinced to run for office by mentors and peers, eventually serving in the Michigan House of Representatives for four years. During her tenure, she worked towards criminal justice reform, tackling issues surrounding prison reform and the rights of survivors of sexual assault. Transitioning to the Michigan Supreme Court, Kyra recognized the weight of her role and the importance of visibility. She aimed to inspire younger generations, showing them that barriers could be overcome.

Her passion for change was evident in her words, offering motivation and guidance for others seeking to make an impact. Kyra highlighted the importance of doing the work, being ambitious, and seeking mentors who could guide the journey. She emphasized the significance of asking for help and fostering strong support networks. Furthermore, Kyra underscored the need for self-care and finding balance, an essential lesson she had learned in her own life.

Addressing young black girls, Kyra offered encouragement and a reminder that their dreams were attainable. She urged them to find mentors who could provide guidance and shared experiences. She stressed the importance of representation and visibility, revealing that her own journey was driven by the desire to make space for others who might not have had the same opportunities.

In closing, Kyra expressed her commitment to fostering change and equity, acknowledging her role on the Michigan Supreme Court as an opportunity to contribute positively to society. Her dedication to justice, her vibrant personality, and her determination to create a better future for marginalized communities all shone through in this conversation, leaving an indelible impression of a woman making waves and leaving her mark on history.



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