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Meet Mike Espy

It was Mike Espy’s grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Huddleston, Sr -- the son of slaves -- who inspired Mike Espy’s determination to serve Mississippi.  

In early 20th Century Mississippi, Huddleston organized the largest African American organization in the state, which helped slaves and their descendants improve their lives through education and self-reliance. He also started a newspaper, The Century Voice, which had a circulation over 100,000, and founded the first Mississippi hospital for African Americans.

Decades later Mike Espy was elected the first African American Congressman from Mississippi since the Reconstruction Era. Mike won by reaching across racial lines and campaigning on issues affecting all Mississippians, like helping family farmers stay afloat and keeping rural hospitals open. In Congress, Mike wrote an economic development bill benefitting rural Mississippi that was signed into law by President Reagan.

Six years later, President-elect Bill Clinton nominated Mike to be Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, the first African American to hold that position, too. Mike personally negotiated foreign trade deals expanding markets for American farmers and he took on entrenched interests to adopt badly needed reforms in the food inspection system.

Mike then came home to Mississippi, where he practices law and serves on the board of Hope Enterprise Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving lives in the rural Mid-South. They have provided loans to people who want to buy their first home or start a business. They also build hospitals in rural communities and open grocery stores in “food deserts.” The Wall Street Journal has named Hope Enterprise Organization one of the most innovative in the country. 

Mike Espy ran for the United States Senate in 2018 and received almost 47 percent of the vote, the highest percentage for a Democrat in 30 years. Mike is running again in 2020, because he believes in Mississippi and Cindy Hyde Smith is hurting our state. Cindy Hyde Smith promotes images that do not represent today’s Mississippi. She openly laughs about public hangings and makes statements supporting voter suppression. It’s hard to bring good jobs to Mississippi with a United States Senator acting like that.

Mike Espy was born in Yazoo City, grew up there, then graduated from Howard University and Santa Clara Law School. He returned to practice law in the Mississippi Delta, helping mostly indigent clients. He then became Assistant Secretary of State, where he helped reform Mississippi’s school funding law to increase revenue for rural public schools, and later Mississippi’s Assistant Attorney General where he was the Director of Consumer Protection.

Mike is married to Portia Ballard Espy and is the father of three children: Jamilla Espy Galloway, Michael Espy, and Ian Espy.

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