WASHINGTON - Black activists with the Project 21 leadership network support the right of talk show host Glenn Beck to hold his "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2010. Because Beck's event takes place on the anniversary and at the location of Dr. Martin Luther King's 1964 "March on Washington" rally, leaders of the establishment civil rights groups oppose the event.
"It's my understanding from reading the Constitution that the First Amendment applies to all. And nothing better exemplified that than when Dr. King exercised his First Amendment rights nearly 50 years ago," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "This isn't about Dr. King or the day and venue itself. It is about a contempt for the message. It is about those who trade on race as a means of notoriety and income fomenting discord for the sake of keeping those who are loathe to realize they are free imprisoned on a plantation of resentment and bitterness."
Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally is described on its web site as a way to "celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage and our future." It also states that it is a "non-political event that pays tribute to America's service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation's founding principles of integrity, truth and honor." Speakers include Beck, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Dr. Alveda King (niece of Dr. King and a member of Project 21) and decorated Navy veteran Marcus Luttrell.
Among the restrictions on the event, Beck wants no political signs because "they may deter from the peaceful message we are bringing to Washington."
Marc Morial of the National Urban League, a fierce critic of the Beck event, calls it "insulting" and a "hijacking of the imagery and symbolism of August 28 and the Lincoln Memorial." Reverend Al Sharpton is planning a "Reclaim the Dream" rally and march that is supported by the NAACP and NUL that will end at the site of the under-construction King Memorial within several hundred feet of the Lincoln Memorial.
Project 21 members question the goals and wisdom of the Sharpton-led event.
"So, Al Sharpton essentially wants to crash Beck's event. Has anyone noticed how the left loves to invite themselves to things for the sole purpose of smearing them? Just because the good reverend says he doesn't plan on confrontation, would he explain the provocation of having his marchers be turned loose within yards of Beck's rally?" asks Project 21 member Bob Parks. "You might want to ask the families of those who suffered -- and died -- in the 1991 Crown Heights riot or the Freddy's Fashion Mart firebombing in Harlem in 1995 about how Sharpton's brand of non-confrontation is working for them. The only reason for bringing marchers that close to the Glenn Beck rally is to start something."
"Groups such as the National Urban League must realize that Martin Luther King had no monopoly on the public square -- or the Lincoln Memorial. Holidays and special events are shared at various sites and on the same day," said Project 21 member Emery McClendon. "Check the record. Find out that Glenn Beck is holding his event on this day to honor Dr. King as well as to remind all Americans that God alone can heal our Republic. It is an event aimed at restoring honor."
Project 21 is a non-partisan organization that does not promote candidates or legislation.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992.