Glenn Beck's Rally Panned by Civil Rights Leaders, Kicks Off Tea Party Rallies

Sarah Palin will speak at Beck's rally scheduled for Aug. 28.

ByABC News
August 19, 2010, 6:17 PM

Aug. 20, 2010— -- Forty-seven years after Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a different type of rally will be convening there. And it is already causing national uproar.

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck's plans to host a "Restoring Honor" rally on Aug. 28 to "celebrate America" has brought objections from some civil rights leaders, who say picking the anniversary of King's speech is a deliberate way to distort King's message.

Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network -- which is also planning a large march that day that ends in the same spot -- has called Beck's event an "outright attempt to flip the imagery of Dr. King." Sharpton said Beck is "circumventing him and distorting him."

Beck, for his part, claims ignorance, saying that he initially planned the rally for Sept. 12, but then realized it was Sunday and didn't want anyone to work on the sabbath. The controversial talk show host attributed the coincidence to "divine providence."

Beck has said the rally will be "non-political." But with an appearance by Sarah Palin as the event's headliner, politics are likely to play some part.

Palin has been busily endorsing conservative mid-term election candidates. And with the elections only months away, the topic is likely to be raised in the rally.

Tea Party activists are expected to make up a large part of the rally, although organizers have been careful to say that it's not a Tea Party event.

Rev. C.L. Bryant, a Tea Party activist and former NAACP president in Garland, Texas, admitted the date Beck wasn't "the best conceived idea," but said the attacks on the date of the rally are "shameful."

"I don't think Dr. King would've had any problem with it," said Bryant, who plans to attend the rally. "In fact, the perpetuation of the race card that's played by groups like NAACP and even some conservative groups is misdirected."

"I think there are forces right now in our country, in certain groups, who want to make everything divisive, and they're using an icon like King to create a division, which I think is shameful," he added.