This year saw Mississippians go to the polls in record numbers, the Legislature called back into session to find a solution to the state’s bridge crisis while sports fans set aside their differences and cheered in one voice for the Bulldogs women’s basketball team. Mississippi Today photojournalist Eric J. Shelton shot and edited many of the images from these news events and more — from state Capitol debates to sports in Neshoba County and beyond to the dramatic moments of this year’s Senate elections.
Students, parents and advocates fill the Capitol rotunda on “school choice” day. Public school advocates, who had a rally planned a few weeks later, say they were denied the opportunity to hold their rally inside the Capitol.
Rep. Charles Young, D-Meridian, presents an unloaded gun to oppose a bill that would allow concealed carry permit holders to sue agencies that limit the ability to concealed carry weapons.
Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians, right, and head coach Vic Schaefer, following Notre Dame’s game-winning shot at the buzzer that denied State its first ever national title.
An Amite County bridge closed by the state earlier this year. Mississippi faced a bridge crisis in 2018 with over 500 bridge closures statewide.
Life-long Utica resident Mack Sears, 68, sits on a bench in the 100 block of West Main Street after leaving Hope Credit Union in Utica Wednesday, June 6, 2018. Utica is about 83 percent African American. Nearly 28 percent of the population lives in poverty.
Marcus Alford, former student football trainer for the University of Alabama, center, teaches students techniques during a USA International Ballet Competition Dance School class at Belhaven University’s Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center in Jackson Tuesday, June 19, 2018.
Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin and eye-witness to the events that took place in 1955, stands next to the Emmett Till river marker during a rededication ceremony for the marker on River Road in Glendora Thursday, June 21, 2018. The previous marker was riddled with bullets in 2016. The event was sponsored by the Emmett Till Interpretive Center and the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University.
Jerry Slocum, farmer and president of North Mississippi Grain Company, takes a look at his soy bean crops in one of his fields in Coldwater, Miss. Wednesday, June 20, 2018. During the recent trade war between the United States and its closest trading partners, China imposed 25 percent tariffs on soybeans, corn and beef.
Jackson Police Department Assistant Chief James Davis, center, speaks to media after Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced that Davis will replace Anthony Moore as the police department’s interim chief during a press conference at City Hall Thursday, June 28, 2018.
Lee Eric Evans, 26, shows his entry and exit gunshot wounds while at his aunt’s home on Davis Street in the Farish Street Historic District Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Evans has been shot on three different occasions near the historic district. On Saturday, July 7, Evans was shot multiple times and found laying on Central Street which is about two miles from the Farish Street Historic District. He died later at the scene.
Trey Ben watches as his team competes in the World Series of Stickball during the Choctaw Indian Fair at Choctaw Central High School Wednesday, July 11, 2018. The commissioner of the World Series of Stickball calls it “the granddaddy of all American Sports.”
A player is tackled during the World Series of Stickball during the Choctaw Indian Fair at Choctaw Central High School Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., right, listens as Senate candidate Mike Espy speaks to media during a press conference at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson Friday July, 20, 2018. Espy’s run for the Senate seat vacated by Sen. Thad Cochran drew prominent Democrats from around the country to Mississippi.
Amanda Johnson, the executive director of Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School, gives Aiden Tyson, 7, a high-five on the first day of school Wednesday July, 25, 2018. The school will start will 50 students in grades kindergarten through second. The school plans to have students up to 8th grade.
Antonio Ficklin, left, and Cedric Love prepare their horses for the harness racing competition at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss. Tuesday, July 31, 2018.
Fairgoers watch as racers compete during the harness racing competition at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss. Thursday, August 2, 2018. The harness racing competition at the fair dates back to the early 1900s.
A boater docks near the Bayou Portage Bridge near DeLisle Sunday, August 12, 2018. Author Jesmyn Ward, a DeLisle native, writes about a fictional town called Bois Sauvage which is inspired by DeLisle.
Shrimp fisherman Giac Le sits on a hammock inside of his van as he waits for customers in DeLisle, Miss. Wednesday, August 8, 2018.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant speaks during a press conference before this week’s special session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Jackson Thursday, August 23, 2018. Lawmakers reached agreements on infrastructure funding and a state lottery during the session.
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves during a special session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Jackson Friday, August 24, 2018.
Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, waits for Senate Bill No. 2001 (state lottery) votes during a special session at the Capitol in Jackson Monday, August 27, 2018.
A lawmaker walks down the steps of the Capitol during a special session of the Legislature in Jackson on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018.
Clean up efforts lasted hours Thursday morning after an 18-wheeler carrying spent hens wrecked on I-55 in Grenada.
Ulysses Hentz plays a game of bones outside an old auto repair shop in Marks with Amos Taylor and Kenny Stanford. Mississippi Today dispatched reporters to all corners of the state and here in the Delta the majority of the people were concerned about more better paying jobs.
A Conderate statue is seen from the window of the Claiborne County courthouse in Port Gibson Thursday, September 6, 2018. The University of Mississippi has recently announced an effort to contextualize its own Confederate symbols.
People hold a sign with the names of the 16 imates who died in state custody last month as they gathered outside of the Mississippi Department of Corrections Administrative building in downtown Jackson to protest Tuesday, September 12, 2018.
Ole Miss players show excitement before their game Alabama in Oxford Saturday, September 15, 2018.
LaQuisha Smith and her daughter chat in a park near their former home. She is looking for work and a new place to live, but wants to keep her kids in the school district. Smith and thousands of others throughout Mississippi are fighting the same fight – eviction notices. Mississippi ranks No. 8 in the nation for evictions.
Tire smoke surround spectators as they watch the Burn ‘em Up in the Pass competition during the the 22nd Annual Cruisin’ The Coast event in Pass Christian Thursday, October 4, 2018.
Tire smoke comes from a truck while performing a burnout in the Burn ‘em Up in the Pass competition during the 22nd Annual Cruisin’ The Coast event in Pass Christian Thursday, October 4, 2018.
Hattiesburg High football coach Tony Vance throws a pass to Zhiari Williams during practice Wednesday, October 11, 2018. Vance, the school’s fourth football coach in four years, lead the Tigers to a No. 1 ranking during the season.
Vern Smith of Gautier catching a fish in Moss Point.
A member of the Sonic Boom of the South walks into Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium before JSU’s homecoming game against Mississippi Valley State University Saturday, October 13, 2018.
Patrick Steve Beadle, center, stands with one of his lawyers, Cynthia Stewart, right, as he questions the bailiff about how he was physically handled during his sentencing hearing at the Madison County circuit court Monday, October 15, 2018. Beadle was sentenced to 8 years for trafficking marijuana.
Anita Hampton holds a sign in support of her nephew, Forest Hill High School band director Demetri Jones, during the Jackson School Board meeting Tuesday, October 16, 2018.
Greater Mt. Calvary Baptist Church is filled with church members and supporters during a Poor People’s Campaign event at Greater Mt. Calvary Baptist Church Wednesday, October 24 in Jackson.
Matthew McLellan sits outside while reading his Bible near Stewpot Community Services in Jackson Thursday, October 25, 2018. Mississippi Today spoke to a dozen people around Stewpot about civic engagement and their thoughts on the midterm elections.
Chris McDaniel speaks to his supporters during a campaign stop on Lakeland Drive in Flowood Monday, November 5, 2018.
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., waves to drivers as she holds a campaign sign at the intersection of Ridgewood Road and Lakeland Drive Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
Candace Washington holds her 3-year-old daughter, Reagan Washington, during the Mike Espy watch party at the Hilton Jackson on County Line Road Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
Governor Phil Bryant, right, stands behind Republican interim Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith as she speaks to supporters during her watch party at the Westin Jackson Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
Students from Barack H. Obama Magnet School cheer for Mike Espy after he spoke to Millsaps College students during a town hall meeting Thursday, November 15, 2018.
U.S. Marine veteran George H. Williams holds a sign as he protests Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith outside of her campaign office in Jackson Friday, November 16, 2018.
Appointed U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., right, and Democrat Mike Espy shake hands following their televised Mississippi U.S. Senate debate in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, Pool)
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., joins House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 29, 2017. When the new Congress convenes in Jan. 2019, Thompson will take the helm of the House Homeland Security Committee. Pelosi is expected to again become House speaker.
In this Aug. 24, 2018 photo, Rukia Lumumba of the People’s Advocacy Institute and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, leads a discussion at the Black Women Matter Issues Forum of small political rural and urban organizations and the Black Voters Matter Fund field team in a leadership exercise in Jackson, Miss. The meeting was in part to introduce national media to these hands-on organizations that work throughout the state and also to build interest and excitement among the groups, that are mainly women led, for the upcoming election, defining issues and the campaigning in locales where black turnout might be key.
In this photo provided by WLBT-TV a noose hangs on a tree on the state capitol grounds in Jackson, Miss. on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. A Mississippi official says two nooses and six signs were found on the grounds of the Mississippi state Capitol. Chuck McIntosh, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration, which oversees the Capitol, says the nooses and signs were found Monday morning between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Cindy Hyde-Smith, right, is congratulated by her daughter, Anna-Michael Smith, after winning the Senate runoff election against Mike Espy Tuesday, November 27, 2018.
Columbia, MS – August 25, 2018 – Roger and Zac Stringer visit the grave of Justin Stringer on the day before what would have been Justin’s 19th birthday. Zac went to prison for shooting his brother but his father blames the gun maker.
Ole Miss’ Dominik Olejniczak (13) goes up for a shot against Southeastern Louisiana’s defense during their game at the Mississippi Coliseum Wednesday, December 12, 2018. The game marked the Rebels’ first game in Jackson in 11 years.
Eric J. Shelton is a 2018 corps member in Report for America, and joined the team as our first photojournalist. A native of Columbia, Miss., Eric earned his bachelor’s in photojournalism from the University of Southern Mississippi. He was a multimedia journalist for Abilene Reporter-News, chief photographer for the Hattiesburg American and photo editor for the Killeen Daily Herald before joining our team June 2018.