Next week, the nation’s first black president, a living symbol of the racial progress Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed about, will stand near the spot where King stood 50 years ago and say where he believes this nation should be headed.
Then, like King, President Barack Obama will step away from the hulking Lincoln Memorial, and return to where this nation is now.
The observances begin Saturday with a march from the Lincoln Memorial to the King Memorial, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and King’s son, Martin Luther King III.
Sharpton has refused to call Saturday’s march a commemoration or a celebration. He says it is meant to protest “the continuing issues that have stood in the way” of fulfilling King’s dream.
Obama is scheduled to speak at the “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony on Wednesday, and will be joined by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Along with their speeches, there will be a nationwide bell ringing at 3 p.m. EDT to mark the exact time King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech, with which the march is most associated. The events were organized by The King Center in Atlanta and a coalition of civil rights groups.