All Rise, Justice Kyra Harris Bolden Makes History

By Charlene M. Mitchell


Kyra Harris Bolden - Supreme Court Justice Making History in Michigan

Michigan’s newest Supreme Court Justice and her husband are lifelong residents of Southfield. Harris-Bolden is a proud product of Southfield Public Schools. As a wife and mother in a high-profile job, she says they are very fortunate to live very close to her parents, as they often babysit their 5-month old daughter, Emerson. Although she is young in comparison to many who have held the position, Harris-Bolden’s education and work experience is noteworthy. She received her undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University and her Law Degree from University of Detroit Mercy.

She talked to me about her previous work experience and her passion for public service.

CM: Tell me about your previous work experience in your field
KHB: I practiced as a criminal defense attorney, judicial law clerk, and civil litigator before running and winning my campaign for State Representative. I served five wonderful communities, including my hometown of Southfield.

CM: When did you decide to first run for office and what was that experience like?
KHB: I decided to run for office, for the first time, in 2018 for State Representative. I ran because I knew I could do more to improve the quality of life of residents of my community and Michigan. Running for the first time was a wonderful experience. I was able to see parts of my community I had never seen. I met so many wonderful people along the way. I was successful, receiving 45% of the vote with 5 opponents and winning with over 80% of the vote, in the general election. I served for four years.

CM: As a State Rep, what were your most proud moments and accomplishments?
KHB: In four years, I was able to sponsor five partisan bills that passed into law. I believe my greatest accomplishments surrounded my office’s services during the pandemic. We secured PPE for public safety, helped thousand of people with unemployment issues, and organized food distribution events. We also made phone calls to seniors in the community, many of whom were isolated, while everyone sheltered in place. I am very proud of what I accomplished during those years of service.

CM: Confidence is so important in elected office. What or Who helps you to be confident in your journey?
KHB: I am incredibly fortunate to have a very strong support system from former teachers, mentors, family, friends, and sorority sisters. Their support has instilled a confidence in me from a very young age and has remained into the present.

CM: As a MI Supreme Court Justice, how important is it to you that you have a great relationship with your fellow Justices? Even though it is a non-partisan position citizens know there is usually a split between GOP and Democrats, Liberals, Moderates and Progressives. How do you overcome this and provide fairness in decision making?
KHB: I am proud to be one of seven equal voices making decisions on the Michigan Supreme Court. I believe we all bring a unique perspective to the table and I enjoy the discussions we have surrounding cases. I believe a collegial work environment and great relationships allow for robust discussion. I believe this is critical to making good decisions.

CM: You ran a good race in running for this office and came in a close third which did not result in a win. Governor Whitmer appointed you to the court, which pleased many voters but you came under scrutiny and received some criticism. Many editorial writers felt you did not have enough experience.
KHB: I am proud of my experience. I worked for a judge and was a litigator prior to running for State Representative. I am currently the only Justice serving on the Michigan Supreme Court that truly knows the process of how laws are made. I have found, in my time on the court, that this knowledge is valuable and critical when interpreting statutes. It has been great sharing my knowledge and experience with the other Justices. I am honored that 1.3 million Michiganders and the Governor believed I was right person for this job.

CM: What hobbies and outside interests do you have for recreation and fun?
KHB: I enjoy spending time with my daughter, going out to dinner with family and friends and riding my Peloton.

CM: Who has been the biggest influence and mentors in your life; family and others?
KHB: The biggest influence in my life has been my parents. They have supported me every step of the way. I am truly grateful for the lessons they taught me and the wisdom they have instilled in me. I also fortunate to have several mentors who have supported and guided me throughout my career.

CM: Does being “The First” Black woman MI Supreme Court Justice put unfair pressure on you, or is it something you choose not to dwell on?
KHB: I do not say I am “The First” Black woman to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court with delight. I believe this barrier should have been broken long before 2023. There have been so many Black women that have broken barriers for me so that I could serve in this capacity, and I am thankful. I understand the weight of representation and I embrace it because there is no better feeling than seeing the faces of little boys and little girls light up with excitement. The fact that children can see what is possible, through my service, is truly an honor of a lifetime.


Charlene M. Mitchell

The author of this article is Emmy-Award winning broadcast journalist Charlene Mitchell. She is President of Media Consultants and a talk show host on 910am Superstation Radio