U.S. Senate, Mississippi
Former Secretary of Agriculture, Alphonso Michael Espy was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, grew up there, and 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 Assistant Attorney General in Mississippi where he was the Director of Consumer Protection. Later Mike Espy was elected the first African-American Congressman from Mississippi since the Reconstruction Era. 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 State of the United States Department of Agriculture, the first African-American 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 systems.
Mike then came home to Mississippi, where he practices law and chairs the board of Hope Enterprise Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving lives in the rural Mid-South. Mike Espy ran for the United States Senate in 2018 and received almost 47 percent of the vote, the highest percentage gained since 1982 by a Democrat running for Senate in Mississippi. He is running again to move Mississippi forward.