This column is a reminder to some and an introduction to others.
Milton Raiford is the second of five sons of Eli and Cora Raiford and all five sons graduated from college. It is one of those positive situations in the Black communities that across this nation millions of parents can relate to when their son or daughter graduated from college. Cora, the mother, was legendary through Homewood. She was known as a neighborhood mother that demonstrated by example her overwhelming concern.
Kenny was the oldest and Milt was second, and I can’t recall any two brothers being closer than these two. In 1968 while attending Westinghouse High School Milt demonstrated his academic skills and was rewarded with a scholarship to the prestigious Middlebrook Prep School in New England, same school that deceased President John Kennedy attended. Upon returning to Pittsburgh Milt attended Duquesne University and eventually attended law school and was admitted to the bar in 1987. He rose rapidly in the legal circle during the next seven years and was widely recognized by his peers and most importantly his clients as the attorney you needed.
I had the opportunity on several occasions to witness Milt in the courtrooms of Allegheny Common Pleas Courts and he was a gifted, fiery determined lawyer, who did his utmost to help his clients. We have all heard or read that saying, “What goes up must come down.” That’s what happened to Attorney Milton Raiford. He became a victim of his success and over the next 12 years he paid a tremendous price by forfeiting his right to practice law. There were those who often would ask what went wrong? I would reflect on how the uniqueness of Milt’s success was the major contributing factor.
Across this nation in almost every neighborhood there is the boy who did good, however 99 percent are athletes. Milt’s success was unusual—he was the local Johnny Cochran, I witnessed it first hand. He would walk down Grant Street through the courthouse, in the clubs, bars, restaurants, football games and the shout would be “Big Milt.” Yes, he done good. He was a big spender, helped an untold number of people—some down on their luck, others pretended to be down on their luck—but he helped anyhow. Success can be extremely difficult; it matters not whether you are a pusher, player, preacher, politician or even a president.
I could write Milt found God, but that would not be accurate, because God was never lost. There were now new mountains to climb. He reached in his bank account [still giving] and in conjunction with three other people amassed $40,000 and founded the Imani Christian Academy, which became a national achieving school. He became the Head Master in the school and his relationship with God lead him into the position at Petra International Ministries as elder.
I would talk with Milt over the years and I witnessed a growth of gigantic proportion, truly the working of God. Over the years Milt and I had a multitude of conversations, generally about the Imani Christian school, the importance of Petra Ministries in his life and particularly about the sustaining influence of Bishop Donald Clay.
There were occasions that I saw him preaching, praying, discussing points of law and waiting for the day he would return to the courtroom as an attorney. However, I also witnessed an overwhelming change manifesting itself in Milton Raiford. It was apparent to me that when he would get reinstated he would be more than a practicing attorney, but a God-fearing attorney. Attorneys very rarely are God-fearing, but seek to win at all cost. They don’t care if their clients are guilty or not, they just want to get paid.
It is a blessing that we are afforded the opportunity to avail ourselves of not just the legal services of Attorney Milton Raiford, but also a Black member of the courts who possesses genuine concern and commitment.
Please remember Kingsley Association.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.)