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Thursday, November 19, 2009

ICYMI: Jackson backs off criticism of Davis

By Markeshia Ricks • November 20,2009
The Rev. Jesse Jackson struck a conciliatory tone after he verbally revoked U.S. Rep. Artur Davis' status as a black man this week.
In his remarks during a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation reception honoring the 25th anniversary of his presidential race, the Washington, D.C., publication The Hill reported that Jackson said, "We even have blacks voting against the health care bill from Alabama. You can't vote against health care and call yourself a black man."

Davis, a Democratic candidate for governor, was the only member of the caucus who voted against the health care bill.

But instead of firing back at the civil rights icon, Davis took the high road and told The Hill that he admired Jackson "for inspiring the idea that a black politician would not be judged simply as a black leader. The best way to honor Rev. Jackson's legacy is to decline to engage in an argument with him that begins and ends with race."

Nevertheless, Jackson's remarks proved valuable ammunition for state Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks, also a Democratic candidate for governor. The Sparks camp has been working to ensure that the people of Alabama in general and Davis' congressional constituents in Birmingham in particular don't forget how the congressman voted.
An e-mail with a link to the article containing Jackson's remarks went out to a large network of potential Democratic voters within the hour of hitting the Internet.

Recognizing the impact his words might have had on Davis' historic attempt to become Alabama’s first black governor, Jackson toned down his rhetoric.
"I talked to Congressman Artur Davis today to assure him of my abiding admiration of him as a leader who is engaged in a huge challenge," Jackson said in a statement. "I offer no challenge to his integrity as a leader."

Jackson went on to say in the statement that representatives should vote their conscience in the interest of their constituency. But he also noted that there is a growing disparity among the black and poor of the country.

"We desperately need voices and votes," he said. "Among the black and the poor, the infant mortality rate is higher, life expectancy is shorter, poverty is growing and unemployment is highest."

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis is responding to remarks that the Rev. Jesse Jackson made about him during a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation reception.


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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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