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Boyd Childress

first African American congressman from Mississippi since Reconstruction and first black U.S. secretary of agriculture. An outspoken advocate for Mississippi's poorest region since the 1980s, Mike Espy was born to Henry and Willie Jean Espy of Yazoo City, Mississippi, and has lived a life of firsts. One of four students initially integrated into Yazoo City High School, he graduated from Howard University in 1975. After earning a JD from Santa Clara University in 1978, he returned to Mississippi to help in his family's flourishing chain of funeral home businesses—Century Funeral Home—the state's largest black-owned business.

Espy worked briefly for Central Mississippi Legal Services and later served under the Mississippi secretary of state Ed Pittman campaigning for Pittman s election as attorney general Espy held several state government positions including assistant secretary of state attorney general assistant secretary of public lands and assistant state attorney general retaining his deep ...


Richard T. IV Middleton

secretary of agriculture in the cabinet of President Bill Clinton; U.S. congressman, and attorney, was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the son of Henry Espy and Willie Jean Espy, prominent owners of a chain of funeral homes. A member of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, Espy was married to Portia Denise Ballard on 17 April 1999. The couple had three children: Jamillla Morgan, Michael William, and Ian Michael Espy. Upon graduating from Howard University in Washington, D.C., with his BA in Law, in 1975 he matriculated at the University of Santa Clara School of Law in Santa Clara, California, where he received his juris doctorate degree in 1978. Espy went on to teach at the prestigious Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Stanford Law School, as well as many other institutions of higher education across the country.

In Mississippi Espy ...