Former Pa. state Sen. Milton Street dies at 83

Street went from hot dog vendor to activist and eventually state senator. He’s being remembered as a trailblazer in Philly politics.

Milton Street speaks during a mayoral debate

Milton Street speaks during a mayoral debate, Monday, May 4, 2015, at Temple University in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

A former Pennsylvania state senator has died at age 83. Milton Street’s name is one that will always be remembered in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics.

T. Milton Street, Sr. died surrounded by family. Nephew and current state Senator Sharif Street said that Milton was a trailblazer when he was in office and ever since.

He recalled a recent phone call with a man who said Milton Street helped keep his family from becoming homeless. “My uncle, he changed lives.”

Street was a hog dog vendor who became an activist and then a state senator, and at one point even held a contract to maintain luggage belts at Philadelphia International Airport.

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In 2007, Street launched unsuccessful campaigns for both mayor and City Council, despite being under a federal indictment on charges of corruption and tax evasion. He was convicted of failing to file tax returns but not on the more serious charges of fraud related to the sale of a maintenance contract at the airport.

Street was an activist who fought poverty and the issue of homelessness in Philadelphia.

Sharif Street said his uncle was also a mentor to many, including his own brother and Sharif Street’s father, John Street, who went on to bigger things in politics.

“His little brother who was the councilman, council president and mayor, and the only person in modern history to serve as council president and mayor,” Street said.

Mayor Jim Kenney called Milton Street an activist and legislator who was passionate about improving the well-being of Philadelphians. Council President Darrell Clarke called Milton Street a man who spoke truth to power — forcefully. Clarke said Street was never afraid to confront an injustice.

“After his time in the state Senate, he built his businesses, working tirelessly and serving as a pillar in the community,” said the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus in a statement. “He made himself available as a mentor and as a friend to many. He will be missed.”

Viewing and Funeral services will be held on Thursday Dec. 15, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, at 2001 W. Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19132.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misstated Street’s age at the time of his passing. He was 83 years old, not 81. 

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