Glenn Beck rally: Why is it on the anniversary of King's speech?

It’s only a coincidence that the Glenn Beck rally will be held at the same spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech 47 years ago, the talk-show host says.

Alex Brandon/AP
The stage is being set Wednesday for the Glenn Beck 'Restoring Honor' rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The rally will be held on Saturday.

Why, exactly, did conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck choose this Saturday for his “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial?

That’s 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the same spot. Some civil rights leaders are upset and say that Mr. Beck is trying to hijack Dr. King’s memory.

“When we heard about Glenn Beck, it was puzzling,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton. “Because if you read Dr. King’s speech, it just doesn’t jell with what Mr. Beck ... [is] saying.”

Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network is planning a counterrally at a nearby school. Participants then will march to the site of a proposed King statue near the Lincoln Memorial, potentially bringing them near Glenn Beck rally participants.

Beck himself says that it’s only a coincidence that his mass meeting will be held on the MLK anniversary. For months he has insisted that it was originally planned for Sept. 12 – the 9-12 Project is the name of a Beck-led values revival effort, after all. Then he realized that date was a Sunday this year, and he did not want to rally on Sunday. So he changed it.

Saturday, Aug. 28, was the best match for the schedule of other people involved in the rally, Beck has said.

And it is true that the coming weekend is a big one for “tea party”-related events in Washington. Many tea-party members probably would have been in town anyway, and this way they can add a Beck rally to their schedules.

FreedomWorks, a tea-party organizational group, is holding its own “Take America Back” convention on Friday evening at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall. The conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire David Koch, is holding a big “Defending the American Dream” summit on Friday and Saturday, as well.

Beck says that his rally is nonpolitical. Sarah Palin is speaking, but no elected GOP lawmakers are scheduled to appear. The tea-party group conventions, however, decidedly are political.

Among the FreedomWorks speakers on Friday will be outspoken conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota and GOP Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul. The Americans for Prosperity meetings include break-out sessions on “The Ticking Tax Bomb,” “Repealing ObamaCare,” and “Free Speech vs. Media Reform.”

“Summit attendees will join thousands of grassroots activists from across the country at Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor Rally’ on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial,” notes a blog post on AFP’s website.

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