Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, which the talk-radio jock has promoted heavily on both his radio program and his Fox News Channel TV show, does not directly lay claim to King's legacy, and Beck himself said he settled on the Aug. 28 date purely by chance after the original date and purpose for the rally did not work out. But so many of the details -- from choice of location (the steps of the Lincoln Memorial) to the speakers (one of whom is King's niece Alveda) -- appropriate the 1963 March's symbolism that it might not surprise a single observer if, when the rally begins at 10 a.m. today, a huge photo of King unfurls behind the speakers.
Given that King was a lifelong Democrat whose own politics had moved well to the left of the Democratic mainstream by the time of his assassination in 1968, however, the "Reclaim the Dream" rally being organized by Sharpton probably has the more legitimate spiritual claim. King's son, Martin Luther King III, the head of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, will speak at the rally.
Tens of thousands are expected to pour into Washington today for both rallies. Here are some important details and last-minute reminders about each.
All about the Glenn Beck rally, "Restoring Honor"
The "Restoring Honor" rally, though free to attend, is officially a fundraiser for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides assistance to severly wounded special operations forces personnel and assistance, counseling, and educational grants to the families and children of special forces members who die in the line of duty; after rally costs are covered, all proceeds from the sale of merchandise at the event benefit the SOWF.
The rally begins at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and is scheduled to end at 1 p.m. Rally participants will gather on the National Mall to the east of the memorial.
Speakers at the event include SOWF representatives, Beck, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Alveda King and former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who received the Navy Cross for his actions fighting the Taliban in 2005. Country singer Jo Dee Messina will also perform.
Attendees arriving by car are advised not to drive into the District, as parking is difficult and many streets in the vicinity of the rally will be closed to traffic. Instead, travelers by car should park at one of several outlying Metro stations and take the subway to the event. In Maryland, New Carrollton, Landover, and Cheverly on the Orange Line and Largo Town Center on the Blue Line are convenient to major highways; in Virginia, riders can park at Vienna-Fairfax, Dunn Loring-Merrifield, West Falls Church or East Falls Church on the Orange Line and Franconia-Springfield or Van Dorn Street on the Blue Line.
Tour bus riders will be let off at Union Station (Red Line) or RFK Stadium (Stadium-Armory, Blue and Orange lines), where they can proceed to the rally on Metro.
The closest stations to the rally are Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom-GWU and Farragut West on the Blue and Orange lines and Metro Center on the Red Line. Rally personnel will be at the stations to direct attendees to the site.
For those attending the Al Sharpton rally, "Reclaim the Dream"
The "Reclaim the Dream" rally, billed in part as a counter to the Beck event, is set to begin at 11 a.m. at Dunbar High School, 1301 New Jersey Ave. NW, about one-half mile northeast of Mt. Vernon Square-7th Street-Convention Center station on the Green and Yellow lines. From Dunbar, participants will march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Tidal Basin, just southeast of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall. The closest Metro station to the march endpoint is Smithsonian on the Blue and Orange lines. Buses will drop off and pick up participants at Dunbar High School, and participants can use Metro to return to Dunbar after the rally.
Besides King's son, NAACP President Ben Jealous, morning radio show host Tom Joyner, TV and radio talk show host Ed Schultz, National Urban League President Marc Morial and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are listed as participating in the rally, which has been endorsed by a number of progressive organizations.
No specific list of speakers has been provided in advance for the event, but speakers will represent a diverse variety of backgrounds, according to the organizers.