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Community Advocacy Organization

Kyra Harris Bolden becomes first Black woman justice to serve on Michigan Supreme Court in 185 years

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Courtesy of Bridge Michigan

Lansing, Mich.- This week, Kyra Harris Bolden was sworn in to become the first Black woman to serve on Michigan Supreme Court in its 185-year history. Her story and this landmark moment marks how far we have come and how far we still have left to go.

This joyous day and her personal journey into this chair was born nearly a century ago out of a tragedy. Bolden was first motivated to attend law school after learning of the injustices that happened in her own family. In 1939, her great-grandfather, Jesse Lee Bonds, was lynched in Tennessee after asking a store owner for a receipt. As Harris Bolden retells her family's story, Bonds was beaten, castrated and then thrown into the town's river. The local coroner deemed it an accidental drowning and his murderer's walked free.

Harris Bolden said to a CNN reporter, "It was definitely a large part of why I became a lawyer." she adds, "we went from an injustice to a capital J- Justice."

Her appointment has come at a pivotal time in Michigan as there have been a number of notably impactful decisions made in the last year- including the abortion rights initiative in November 2022, the banned discrimination of LGBTQA+ people, and the grand jury's decision to drop charges against state officials connected to Flint's water crisis.

Of her decision, Gretchen Whitmer said, "One-hundred eighty-five years, we've never had an African American woman on the state's highest court? It is about damn time."

She is such a dynamic woman, being the youngest to serve on Michigan's Supreme Court at 34-years old. She and her husband just welcomed a new baby five months ago; she was pregnant throughout her campaign traveling the state. In addition, her husband took nearly 2 months of paternity leave to be an equal caregiver to their daughter to support Harris Bolden. We enjoy seeing a family work together to support one another and make dreams come true.

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