By Mike Espy
We may not have won our race for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi. But there is a hell of a lot we accomplished together.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for praying for me, thank you for voting for me, thank you for supporting me, thank you for working hard for me, thank you for holding my hand. Thank you for making this the best campaign Mississippi has ever had.
Every single person who called, who knocked doors, who texted, who donated, who talked to their family, friends, and neighbors. Your contributions — big and small — helped make history once again.
Last night, Mississippi voted to do away with the Jim Crow era rules for statewide elections that will create a fairer way to elect our officials.
Last night, Mississippi sent Congressman Bennie Thompson back to the House of Representatives to continue fighting for the Second Congressional District and for all people across this state.
Last night, Mississippi chose to elect a new flag. A symbol to be sure — but a symbol of progress. We have voted to be a state that prizes diversity, inclusion, and progress for all.
I want to be clear, what we have achieved last night is HISTORIC. Against all odds, we have put together something that has never been realized in the state of Mississippi by a Democratic candidate.
I have not minced words criticizing those who looked down upon this campaign and this state.
I’s no secret that Mississippians — especially Black Mississippians — are overlooked. We are overlooked by Washington, by the Democratic Party, by the media, by national political prognosticators.
We started this race 25 points down. In the last two years, we closed that gap. We raised $14.5 million from 200,000 individuals. We made 2 million direct voter contact attempts. We talked to 500,000 Mississippians. We held more than 100 events across the state — both virtual and socially distant.
Reflecting on our achievements in these last two years, I thought about my grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Huddleston, Sr — to whom I’d like to dedicate this race.
Thomas Jefferson Huddleston, Sr. was the son of slaves from Louisiana and Virginia. He raised himself, going on to become the largest Black landowner in Mississippi, the founder of a fraternal organization and a hospital for Black Mississippians to give them a place to receive medical care, and the owner of a newspaper, The Century Voice.
The Mississippi of 1920 was an exceptionally dangerous place for Black people. But my grandfather deeply believed in helping create opportunities to African-Americans to lift themselves up to create a better life for their families and doing everything possible to bring his people together.
My grandfather saw one hundred years into the future: To 2020. There would come a time when Black Mississippians made their voices heard: by marching peacefully in the streets, by sparking the momentum to change that old flag, by supporting this campaign.
Thomas J. Huddleston never cast a ballot in his lifetime but he found a way to lift Black Mississippians up. And that is a legacy I will carry with me always.
When I filed to run for Senate again in 2018, I decided to run for Fannie Lou Hamer, for Medgar Evers, for Vernon Dahmer, for Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman. I ran this race for so many of those who bled and died and sacrificed for our rights in Mississippi.
In 1964, it was Fannie Lou Hamer, with tears streaming down her face, who cried, “is this the land of the free? Is this the home of the brave?” Fannie Lou told America, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we want change.”
Well, the winds of change — the winds of progress — the winds of prosperity are blowing right here at home in Mississippi, Fannie Lou.
If by watching this campaign, you were inspired to run for office, to help your communities, to believe change is possible in Mississippi — then this campaign has achieved all it set out to do and more.
Here’s one last photo I want to share with you. On the eve of Election Day, our Momentum in Mississippi bus made one final stop in Starkville, Mississippi. This is the same place I stopped the night before I won my race for Congress in 1986.
On a chilly November night in a Walmart parking lot, I put my arms around the people who gathered there to support me. All wearing masks, we gathered into a prayer circle. Ms. Bettye Oliver of Starkville led a beautiful prayer that filled my heart with the word of the Lord.
I promise you, our campaign is just the beginning. We built the bridge. I may not have gotten there myself, but I know Mississippians after me will.
As I’ve said often on the trail, I ran for this seat because I wanted to DO something, not because I wanted to BE something.
Whether in public office or right here at home, I will NEVER stop fighting for Mississippi. From the Delta to East Mississippi up to Oxford and DeSoto down to the Pine Belt and the Coast:
KNOW THIS: When you call on me, I will answer.
Thanks for all you do.