"Maybe if they read the speech rather than try to reclaim something that is imaginary, they would understand it," the Reverend Al Sharpton Friday jabbed at Glenn Beck and his legions of followers, who are expected to attend his Restoring Honor rally Saturday morning at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s, "I Have A Dream" speech.
Civil rights leaders and Sharpton will be commemorating the day with a march from Dunbar High School to the intended site for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall while Beck, who works for Fox News Channel, will be holding his rally at the site where the momentous speech took place. Sharpton and others believe that Beck intentionally planned his rally for that day to derail their message and divide the people.
"As an experienced politician, I know that things do not happen by accident. If they happen, somebody planned it. And I say that someone planned to hijack the site and the message of Martin Luther King Jr. in an effort to use it against the very principles of inclusion that we talk about in America," said the Reverend Walter Fauntroy, who marched with King and was by his side during the speech forty-seven years ago.
Beck has asserted that in no way did he try to "hijack" the historic date.
"I had no idea August 28th was the day of the MLK speech when we booked it. I knew that MLK spoke at the Lincoln Memorial. I knew that it was about the content of character. I knew it was about civil rights and injustice. It knew all of those things, but I'm sorry, media, that I forgot the, oh, so important detail of the date," said Beck on his show Thursday afternoon.
Sharpton explains he is not contesting rally participants’ right to march. The problem, he says, lies in participants messing with King’s legacy."I have no problem if Mr. Beck and Ms. Palin and others want to march and want to rally. I do have a problem, when Mr. Beck says he's reclaiming the civil rights movement, because they started it in the first place. Well, who is they?"
Sharpton also says that Beck is missing the point of the original rally and the message King intended.
"His (MLK) speech says clearly that he wanted to see a nation where the federal government protects us from those in states who would not uphold our civil rights. You can't have a march telling government to leave us alone, and say you are reclaiming a march where they came to appeal to the government to protect us. They are having an anti-government march, on the day that King came to appeal to government. You can't have it both ways."
Beck says the day is not political, it's about restoring what once made the country great."We have a shortage of character. We don't even know how to teach it to our children anymore. We're running low on personal responsibility. We've got a loss of integrity, a loss of shame in this country, a loss of principles and values. We've lost our way because we have lost God....We've lost our honor. We must restore our honor first, our principles."
Fauntroy doesn't believe the Beck or Palin will deliver any message that will help unite the country. He looks back fifty years and sees the message of a divided society, a message delivered by Senator Barry Goldwater and Carl McIntire that "extremism in defense of liberty is a virtue."
"Fast forward now to August 28, 2010, and one has to admit that those who oppose our nation's vaunted ‘universal value of inclusion’ have seized the hallowed ground of the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of that watershed moment in time to promote their universal values of exclusion," he says. "Their purpose is to turn the clock back to a time when, in America, black people and women, and native Americans and non-white immigrants had no rights to jobs and freedom that white men were 'bound to respect.' The Barry Goldwaters and Carl McIntires of 1963 have become the Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks of 2010."