The Medford Haitian Oral History Project

Henry Milorin, from Haiti to America: The Quintessential Immigration Story of an Ambitious Man

Henry Milorin lives in West Medford. He is a Haitian immigrant who came to this country when he was twenty years old. Now in his mid- 60's, his story reads like a guide book on how to do well in America, how to "make it in Massachusetts."

When Milorin first came here he hoped to go to college and to become a dentist. Instead he faced prejudice at work and in his neighborhood in West Medford. The jobs offered to him were factory jobs, and the pathway to Tufts Dental School, his original reason for settling in Medford, was not at all clear.

If you watch the interview with him below, you will discover how flexible Milorin was and how completely he threw himself into each factory job he worked at. Step by step he rose within the ranks wherever he was employed. The places he worked and the skills he developed kept improving. At the same time he joined the National Guard and he studied at five different colleges as he worked full time and raised a family.

Finally he graduated with a four year degree. One of the last jobs he held before retiring was principal systems programmer with Fidelity Investments Systems Company.

But there is a whole other side to Henry Milorin because he is the father of an autistic child who is now in his early 40's. Henry and his wife Evelyne became advocates for their child almost forty years ago and they have never stopped doing this work. They have worked tirelessly within the system to change conditions for autistic children and for people with many other kinds of disabilities. Although originally they were just trying to get the best possible education and the best possible life for their own son, at this point many, many families have benefited from the goals they worked for and the significant changes they were able to realize in education and in independent living for people with disabilities. One of those changes in the inclusion of special education students in "regular" classrooms in public schools.

Henry Milorin has worked on Family Support initiatives to help achieve inclusion for children like their son, Reggie. He established one of the first support groups in Boston for fathers of children with disabilities. He works with immigrant residents, especially those in the disability community, to achieve economic self-sufficiency through affordable housing, employment, education, and civic engagement. He provides technical assistance to community-based organizations to promote full inclusion for underserved populations in the Boston area.

Sharon Kennedy interviews Henry Milorin

Over the last twenty years Henry has served as a volunteer and on the board of numerous disability organizations. He is currently a member of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, the City of Medford's Commission for Persons with Disabilities and the Medford Democratic Committee. He has served on the Massachusetts Autism Coaliton. Milorin has also received the ARC of Massachusetts Distinguished Citizen Award and the East Middlesex ARC's Lucie Cripps Award.

Henry gave up his dream of becoming a dentist long ago but he currently wishes he could afford to go to Suffolk Law School. He would like to be a lawyer so he could fight for social justice. However, he does have a new career as a political advisor and consultant. He is especially advising minorities who want to run for political office. He also runs workshops to encourage people to consider running for office. He is a strong believer in civic engagement. Here it is in his own words: "My new mission is helping more everyday people to run for elected office, preparing them to run and creating a campaign plan that will work for them. There is no doubt that we need more ordinary citizens serving in our government to keep us connected."