WASHINGTON — Social activists and civil rights leaders plan marches and demonstrations, including the unveiling of a nearly four-story-tall original sculpture on the National Mall, on Aug. 28 to coincide with a rally organized by Fox News personality Glenn Beck.
Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin among the scheduled speakers, will take place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech there.
The conservative talk show host announced in November that he wanted to reveal a "100 year plan for America" at the Lincoln Memorial. More recently, he said that the purpose of his Aug. 28 event is to restore the country's "values" and to pay tribute to military families.
"There will be absolutely no politics involved," he said. "This rally will honor the troops, unite the American people under the principles of integrity and truth, and make a pledge to restore honor within ourselves and our country."
Responding to the criticism on his show, Beck said he had initially planned the event for Sept. 12 and then realized it was a Sunday. He rescheduled the rally for Aug. 28 because it was the best schedule for the people involved, he said.
Several civil rights leaders and activists called Beck's comments disingenuous. Beck's choice of day and place for the rally "is insulting," Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said in an interview Monday. "August 28 is something special. It is a day that means something in American history because it was the demonstration in the United States in support of civil rights."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who plans a march that day to commemorate King's legacy, says Beck's rally contradicts King's legacy. Sharpton said he began planning in April for his "Reclaim the Dream Rally," which is scheduled to end at the planned site of the King memorial on the Mall. The event, supported by the NAACP, the Urban League and Martin Luther King III, "is not a countermarch to Beck," nor will the rally be about confrontation, Sharpton said. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be among the participants, according to Sharpton's National Action Network.