Mr. Milner, a Detroiter who enjoyed regional success with plays — including productions in his hometown — was 66.
Among his plays are Who's Got His Own, What the Wine-Sellers Buy, Season's Reasons, The Warning—A Theme for Linda, Jazz-Set and Roads to the Mountaintop (a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). He also penned the book to the gospel musical, Don't Get God Started, written with the gospel family the Winans.
In his career, he received the John Hay Whitney and Rockefeller fellowships and taught creative writing at the University of Southern California, Wayne State University and Michigan State University.
Checkmates, which starred Paul Winfield, Denzel Washington, Ruby Dee and Marsha Jackson, and concerned two couples with differing values, was written under an NEA grant and first produced by Chicago's ETA Theatre.
His longtime friend and collaborator Woodie King Jr., of the New Federal Theatre, staged the Broadway run of the Checkmates, which ran August-December 1988. "He was an exceptionally well-trained artist by going to the libraries," King, of New York City, told the press the after Mr. Milner's death. "His training was through libraries and extensive readings."
Mr. Milner is survived by three sons and two daughters, the AP reported.
A memorial service was scheduled for July 13 at 8 PM at Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit. Mr. Milner was to be cremated and a funeral service was planned for July 14.