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King's niece defends rally on anniversary of "I Have a Dream" speech

By the CNN Wire Staff
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The Beck effect
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is scheduled to speak at a Glenn Beck rally
  • The rally is set to take place where the "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered
  • Sarah Palin is also expected to speak at the controversial event

(CNN) -- The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece is slated to speak Saturday at a controversial rally by radio talk show host Glenn Beck scheduled to take place in the same location as her uncle's "I Have a Dream" speech.

Saturday is also the 47th anniversary of the speech the civil rights leader delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Beck, a hero to many conservative voters across the country, says that the mission of the rally is to honor American troops and that the event is nonpolitical. The rally is hosted by Beck and the Fox News Channel.

A news release for the "Restoring Honor" rally says "this nonpolitical event benefits the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and pays tribute to America's service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation's founding principles of integrity, truth and honor."

King's niece Alveda King said she supports the event.

"We're reclaiming America and restoring honor," Alveda King said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "I believe we do that with faith, with hope, with charity, and honoring our brothers and our sisters as we honor each other."

Beck has said he scheduled his rally before realizing it was the anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech. He has since drawn links between King's legacy and his event.

"This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement," Beck said on his radio show in May. "It has been so distorted and so turned upside down because we must repair honor and integrity first, I tell you right now. We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties, and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement because we were the people that did it in the first."

Alveda King said she's been accused of hijacking "the dream," but said the "the dream" is in her genes.

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"I don't have to reclaim the civil rights movement, I'm part of the civil rights movement," she said, noting her family's home and her father's church were bombed when she was younger.

Tea Party activists from across the country are expected to attend, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a Fox News contributor, will have a prominent speaking role.

While the NAACP put out a cautious statement regarding the rally, there has been a lot of criticism of the event.

"It's offensive because it's out of line with the fact. It's out of line with the truth," Michael Fauntroy, an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University, said Friday on CNN's "American Morning." "The reality is that the conservative movement in America historically has always opposed expansion of civil rights for all kinds of people."

One hour after the start of the Beck rally, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous will join the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network and other civil rights leaders in a mass rally just a few miles away. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is also participating.

Following an event at Washington's Dunbar High School, the participants will march to the site of the future Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial just a few blocks from the Lincoln Memorial.

It's possible participants in both events could cross paths.

Organizers of the Beck rally say they have not coordinated their efforts with Republican Party officials. Officials at the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee all say they are not involved in the event.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

 
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