WWJ Newsradio 950 celebrates Black History Month by recognizing our local young African American professionals and their heroes. 

DETROIT (WWJ) – Young defense attorney Phyllis Gayden knew she wanted to be a lawyer when she was just in the seventh grade.

Some 15 years later, the Michigan graduate is that and more, thanks in part to her inspiration in black history: the first African American U.S Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.

But perhaps the biggest influence in helping her realize the full potential and be herself was Gayden’s late mother, Florida Gayden.

“She was a dynamic mother,” Gayden told WWJ’s Stephanie Davis. “She also taught me how to be who I am and there’s so many facades to who Phyllis is, that she made me the complicated young lady I am.”

Gayden is also is a volunteer in the community, hoping to be an inspiration to the youth in the same way Marshall and her mother were.

“I’m an entrepreneur; I run two businesses,” Gayden said. “I am a community person and I do a lot at my church. I do a lot with young people and I do a lot with senior citizens.”

Gayden says she wants to empower people, helping them look at life from a different point of view.

“I love to make people feel better about themselves,” Gayden said. “I love to make people see the light at the end of the tunnel, I love to make people focus on the big picture.”

She also noticed that this has been an issue with people she has represented and she delivers the same message in the workplace, hoping to help them avoid making the same mistake again.

“One of the biggest things I’ve noticed as an attorney when I work with one of my clients is that they never think about the big picture,” Gayden said. “You’re mad right now and so you responded in this way because you’re mad, but you have to think about the big picture.”

Hear the complete interview:


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