Photo credits: Jessica Hill for the Associated Press
Thirman L. Milner (pictured) is an American politician from Hartford, Connecticut. A Democrat, he served as the 62nd Mayor of Hartford from 1981 to 1987 and was the first popularly elected black mayor in New England.
Milner was born in Hartford, Connecticut. After high school he attended New York University, initially wanting to major in pharmacy. While in college, a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. inspired Milner to pursue a life of public service.
In 1981, Milner defeated incumbent George A. Athanson in a second Democratic primary election. Athanson had won the first primary by 94 votes but was re-run after Milner contested the results and a court agreed that there had been irregularities.
On November 3, 1981, Milner was elected mayor of Hartford, Connecticut in a three way race against Independent Robert F. Ludgin and Republican Michael T. McGarry. He was the first popularly elected black mayor in New England.
After serving three terms as mayor of Hartford, Milner was elected to a single term in the Connecticut House of Representatives, representing the seventh district. He served on the Connecticut Senate starting in 1992, declining to run for reelection from the second district in 1994 due to heath reasons.
The Thirman L. Milner Middle Grades Academy, a Hartford middle school, is named after New England’s first black mayor.