Mike Espy was born and grew up in Yazoo City. He graduated from Howard University and Santa Clara Law School, and then returned to practice law in the Mississippi Delta. 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.
Later, Mike was elected the first African American Congressman from Mississippi since the Reconstruction Era. He won his campaign 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, he 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 Black person to hold that position. 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.
After his service in Washington, Mike returned to Mississippi, where today he practices law. He also serves on the board of a non-profit organization dedicated to improving lives in the rural Mid-South, providing loans to first-time homebuyers or people who want to start a business. The organization also builds hospitals in rural communities and opens grocery stores in “food deserts.”
Mike Espy ran for the United States Senate in the 2018 special election and received almost 47 percent of the vote, the highest percentage for a Democrat in 30 years. He’s running again in 2020, because he believes in Mississippi. He also believes that 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 and his wife, Portia, are grateful to call Jackson, Mississippi home. He is a proud grandfather, and father to Jamilla, Michael, and Ian.