Alphonso Michael Espy (born November 30, 1953) is an American politician who served as the 25th United States Secretary of Agriculture from 1993 to 1994. He was both the first African American and first person from the Deep South to hold the position. A member of the Democratic Party, Espy previously served as the U.S. Representative for Mississippi's 2nd congressional district from 1987 to 1993.
In March 2018, Espy announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Thad Cochran. Espy lost in the November 6 nonpartisan special election before facing Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith in a November 27 runoff. Espy was defeated by Hyde-Smith, but garnered more than 46 percent of the vote in what was the closest U.S. Senate election in Mississippi since 1988. He was the Democratic nominee again in the 2020 election but lost by ten percentage points against Cindy Hyde-Smith in a rematch.
Espy was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He is the grandson of Thomas J. Huddleston Sr., founder of the Afro-American Sons and Daughters, a fraternal society that operated the Afro-American Hospital, a leading provider of health care for Black people in the state from the 1920s to the 1970s. Espy attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and was active in student politics, holding several elective positions. He earned his Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law in California in 1978.
Espy was an attorney with Central Mississippi Legal Services between 1978 and 1980 and was later the Assistant Secretary of State to Mississippi Legal Services. From 1980 to 1984, he was the Assistant Secretary of the State to the Public Lands Division. Espy was an Assistant State Attorney General from 1984 to 1985.