How Kym Worthy broke barriers becoming first Black female Wayne County prosecutor

Worthy elected prosecutor in 2004

Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy achieved several milestones when she took her position back in 2004.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy achieved several milestones when she took her position back in 2004.

DETROIT – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy achieved several milestones when she took the position in 2004.

“I took the bench in January of 1995, and then returned to the prosecutor’s office nine years after that as the elected prosecutor,” Worthy said.

Worthy has been working in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for decades, but when she took office in the early 2000′s, she became the first Black woman in the position.

“I’m proud to have been the first. We piloted some programs back there that no one was doing, no one was talking about. In fact, we were ostracized,” she said.

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One of Worthy’s more notable prosecutions was the first time an on-duty police officer was convicted for the murder of an unarmed Black man, Malice Green.

“I was on the prosecution team. We convicted on-duty white police officers for beating to death a Black man, and juries convicted them of murder. It was the first case in the United States where that had happened where on-duty police officers were convicted of murder. So we knew back here in Detroit that that could be done in the 1990s,” Worthy said.

In the years to follow, there was only one other woman of color in a similar position -- Kamala Harris, who is now the vice president of the United States.

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“Both of us were actually appointed and/or ran within months of each other,” Worthy said of herself and Harris. “She was in San Francisco and I was here in Detroit.”

While Worthy may still be a trailblazer, she’s glad to see her path is becoming somewhat the norm.

“You have Fani Willis in Atlanta, and you have Jackie Lacey was the first African-American female in (Los Angeles), you have Kim Foxx in Chicago,” Worthy said.

Worthy said she wants her kids to grow up in a world without glass ceilings.

“I’m the first African to hold this position, but I want them to grow up in a world where it’s normal,” Worthy said. “If this is what they want to do, then they know they can see it. It’s everywhere, people of color are doing things everywhere, and it’s not unusual so there’s no more firsts.”

Worthy has also been a professor of criminal law and has even lectured at Harvard Law School.

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About the Author:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.