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WASHINGTON (AP) — Alice Long planned months ago to use vacation time to travel from Huntsville, Ala., to the 50th anniversary events for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.|
Long, a NASA administrative assistant, brought along her grandchildren to give them a close-up view of African-American and civil rights history that she said isn’t being taught in schools.
‘‘I'm here supporting this march because there are so many injustices in this country,’’ Long, 59, said on the eve of Saturday’s march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. ‘‘I'm very concerned about it because I have a 5-year-old grandson and a 13-year-old granddaughter.’’
Marchers began arriving early Saturday to gather on the National Mall, many staking out their spots as the sun rose in a clear sky over the Capitol. The NAACP passed out signs reminiscent of the 1963 event expressing reasons for the march five decades later: ‘‘We March To Protect Voting Rights,’’ proclaimed one of the placards.
Organizers have planned for about 100,000 people to participate in the event, which is the precursor to the actual anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963, march. It will be led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and King’s son Martin Luther King III. After several speeches, participants will walk the half-mile from the Lincoln Memorial to the 2-year-old memorial.
On the day of the anniversary, President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place King stood when he delivered his ‘‘I Have a Dream’’ speech. Obama will be joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Churches and groups have been asked to ring bells at 3 p.m. Wednesday, marking the exact time King spoke.