News / USA

Conservative Political Rally Stirs US Civil Rights Activists

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial

Multimedia

It was 47 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famed "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  The 1963 March on Washington was intended to change the racial divide in the country between blacks and whites.  By contrast, a different type of rally planned for the site, on the August 28 anniversary of the speech this year, has stirred racial tensions.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.  We hold to these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal."

Delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech 47 years ago changed the country,  and brought about greater racial harmony between blacks and whites.  More than a quarter of a million people gathered for that march on Washington on August 28, 1963.

Howard University Political Science Professor Lorenzo Morris says it was a defining moment for the U.S. Civil Rights movement and the country's history.

"The 1963 March on Washington set not only a value framework for the minorities who participated and the progressive whites who joined African-Americans, but also for the nation.  Its acceptance after the fact meant that the nation had to change directions not just because of the laws, but because we recognized the shared values of greater racial and social integration," Lorenzo said.

Decades later, social and civil rights activists are upset that Glenn Beck - a popular conservative commentator and talk show host - is holding a large-scale rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of King's speech.  They accuse Beck and followers of the conservative "Tea Party" political movement of deliberately picking the date to distort King's message.

Rick Turner of the NAACP says Beck and elements of the Tea Party movement are using an icon like King to create division.

"Their philosophy is diametrically opposed to those of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his legacy and his message," Turner said.

Virginia Tea Party member Carole Thorpe says while she understands the concerns of some civil rights activists that the purpose of the event, named "Restoring Honor," is something everyone can support. "I'm sensitive to the sensitivity people who think this it is a bad idea and something that's offensive to them. It's non political, it's non partisan. It's to honor the U.S. military," she stated.

Glenn Beck says it is a coincidence his rally is taking place on the anniversary of the March on Washington.  He says the organizers initially planned to hold it on September 12th, but changed the date so more people could attend.  But critics like the NAACP's Rick Turner say it is also inappropriate that the National Rifle Association is a partial sponsor of the event, considering that Martin Luther King was assassinated by gunshot.

"There is enough room at the Lincoln Memorial for other groups.  It is a big place," Turner said. "But I think it is a poke in the eye of the civil-rights movement and the legacy of Martin Luther King."

Neither Beck nor the NRA have commented on that point of criticism.  Despite their claim of coincidence, Professor Morris says, he thinks Glenn Beck and supporters of the Tea Party movement realize the importance of the anniversary of Dr. King's Speech.

"Glenn Beck and others today want to do something to steal part of that legacy.  The praise of the legacy indicates its importance.  They want to somehow transform it or to distort it into something that the people they represent shared in, rather than in some ways resisted," Morris said.

Civil-rights activist Al Sharpton and his National Action Network along with the NAACP, the largest U.S. civil-rights organization, will also hold a march nearby - saying they want the true legacy of Dr. King's Dream to be remembered.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid