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Blocks away from a huge rally by conservative activists, civil right leader Al Sharpton led a counter-protest to honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who galvanized the civil rights movement 47 years ago with his "I have a dream speech."
Sharpton and some other African American leaders took umbrage at conservative commentator Glenn Beck's decision to state his "Restoring Honor" event on the anniversary of the 1963 King speech at the spot where he delivered it -- the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Sharpton's group started at Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington and marched to the Tidal Basin, several long blocks from the Lincoln Memorial where conservative activists gathered.
"The folks who used to criticize us for marching are trying to have a march for themselves," the AP reported Sharpton said. "We come because the dream has not been achieved. We've made a lot of progress. But we still have a long way to go." He said his group at the Tidal Basin -- site of a planned King memorial -- was not looking for a confrontation with those at the Beck rally.
"The 'March on Washington' changed America," District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said, according to the Washington Post. "Our country reached to overcome the low points of our racial history. Glenn Beck's march will change nothing. But you can't blame Glenn Beck for his 'March on Washington' envy. Too bad, he doesn't have a message worthy of the place." Norton, who represents Washington in Congress, was at the 1963 march.
Avis Jones DeWeaver, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, said "don't let anyone tell you that they have the right to take their country back. It's our country too. We will reclaim the dream. It was ours from the beginning."
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