Artur Davis under fire from Jesse Jackson and locals

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Alabama Congressman and gubernatorial candidate, Artur Davis, is under fire.  First, Rev. Jesse Jackson criticized his vote against healthcare reform last night at a Congressional Black Caucus event, and now, a local group is speaking out as well.

The spokesperson for the group, Community First Birmingham, said Representative Davis has turned his back on the poor African-Americans in his district.

The group says Davis should have voted for the healthcare bill. They also argue Davis is not supportive of Cooper Green Hospital in Birmingham.

"I agree totally with the Rev. Jesse Jackson," said Walt Wilson. "How can an African-American male who is highly educated, not be concerned with the problems of the people he represents?"

Wednesday, Rev. Jackson told "The Hill" newspaper in Washington, D.C., "You can't vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man."

However, after talking to Representative Davis by phone Thursday, he said, "I admire him as a leader who is engaged in a huge challenge."

UAB professor, Dr. Larry Powell, said the backlash isn't surprising because Rep. Davis has struggled to win the support of African-American leaders, and his vote on healthcare could impact his campaign.

"He has been careful tip-toeing around that," said Dr. Powell, "Holding conferences and coming to a position that is middle of the road. That is a tightrope we are still waiting to see if he can manipulate or manage carefully."

Dr. Powell said the healthcare issue will continue as a hot topic. Wilson agreed. Saying they will continue speaking out until they think Rep. Davis listens.

"I want it known statewide to the African-American community, Mr. Davis is not the man who should be representing us, plain and simple," said Wilson, "He does not put our needs first."