By Othor Cain, Editor, The Mississippi Link
Shelia Jackson Lee, the Congresswoman representing the 18th congressional district in Texas, joined U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy on the campaign trail in Mississippi, Sunday, Oct. 21. The whirlwind of a day included stops at four different black churches, a town-hall meeting and a meet and greet.
From the moment Lee’s plane landed until takeoff at sunset, she engaged with voters about this historical election.
“A Mike Espy victory will result in the first African American senator from Mississippi since reconstruction,” Lee said to an enthusiastic crowd in Jackson at the 108-year old College Hill Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. Michael T. Williams. “Mississippi can come out of the ashes with this election and you have the power to make that happen.”
With less than two-weeks before voters in Mississippi head to the polls for mid-term elections, Lee’s visit was a much-needed jolt of energy and excitement for black voters. As an African American Democrat in Mississippi, Espy needs a strong voter turnout among black people, who make up 38 percent of the state’s population. “When you go to the polls, I want you to close your eyes and pretend as if you’re voting for Barack Obama,” Espy said to a cheering crowd at a recent campaign event. “Although, I’m not as handsome and perhaps don’t speak as well as he does, we need that type of support.
Lee’s visit to Mississippi was two-days after the October 19 endorsement of Espy by the Congressional Black Caucus, led by Caucus chairman, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.). Members of Congress joined Espy outside of the Washington County Courthouse in Greenville, Miss.
“The biggest compliment I can pay to other elected officials is that they get it, and I’m here today because Mike Espy gets it,” Richmond said. “When he’s in the U.S. Senate, he will stand on the side of families, justice and fairness. He’s not going to worry about politics or profits. He’s going to worry about purpose…and that’s why the Congressional Black Caucus is proud to endorse Mike Espy for U.S. Senate.
U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss), who represents this Mississippi Delta town along with Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), joined Richmond in representing the Caucus at the press announcement. “I’m pleading for some help…and as they say, with Mike Espy, help is on the way,” Thompson said. “November 6 is right around the corner. The help is there. All we have to do is go to the polls, and we can get it done.” I look forward to continuing to work to make sure Mike Espy becomes our next U.S. Senator from Mississippi.”
Espy, who is running to fill the unexpired term of Thad Cochran, who resigned his position, citing health complications, was excited to have Lee in Mississippi. “It is good to have this type of support from people that I admire, but more importantly from people that I consider friends,” Espy said. “Congresswoman Lee has been fighting for and representing the people in Texas for many years and I look forward to not only working with her, but her continued leadership.”
Lee’s schedule was to include lunch and a break during her one-day visit. “I don’t need a break or a breather, I came to Mississippi to get Mike Espy elected,” Lee told Espy campaign staffers. With her push and drive, staffers added additional stops for Lee and she rose to the occasion at each venue.
“Mississippi can be a part of this blue wave happening across the country; Mississippians can change the dynamics of what’s happening in Washington,” Lee said at an unplanned stop at a local radio station in Jackson. “We have the power to get this done.”
Espy in 1986 became the first African-American since Reconstruction to win a U.S. House seat in Mississippi, and in 1993 he was named U.S. Agriculture Secretary by President Bill Clinton.