American civil rights leaders are criticizing a competing rally in the nation's capital on the 47th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech by civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
African-American civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton told thousands of people gathered at a "Reclaim the Dream" event at a Washington high school Saturday that people at the other rally want to disgrace the day but "we won't let them." He also said the people at the bigger "Restoring Honor" rally led by American broadcaster Glenn Beck are the same people who once criticized African-Americans for marching for civil rights.
The leader of the oldest U.S. civil rights organization also criticized the Beck rally for having to tell participants not to bring signs or guns. NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) president Benjamin Todd Jealous said it is time to remind the country that the majority of Americans believe in hope and justice.
Participants plan to march to the site of a planned Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall.
There had been some concern that there could be confrontations, and even violence, between the two rallies. But Sharpton said participants in the "Reclaim the Dream" rally would not disgrace the anniversary by allowing themselves to be provoked.
Earlier this week, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s son, Martin Luther King III, defended Beck's right to hold a rally on the anniversary of his father's historic "I Have a Dream" speech. King wrote in the Washington Post that his father championed free speech. But he also wrote that the civil rights leader "rejected hateful rhetoric and all forms of bigotry."
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.