Thousands March on Washington DC Saturday for the 50th anniversary of MLK's 'I Have a Dream' speech

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder says the spirit of the 1963 March on Washington now demands equal rights for gays, Latinos, women and people with disabilities.

Speaking before tens of thousands of people on the National Mall, the nation's first black attorney general praised those who faced repression and brutality to march a half century ago. He thanked them for standing up to "racist governments and governors."

Without them, he said, he'd never be the attorney general and Barack Obama would not be president.

The anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is Wednesday but anniversary events began Saturday morning. Organizers expected about 100,000 people.

A half century ago, 250,000 people crowded the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and stood shoulder to shoulder down the National Mall to hear the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The tens of thousands of people arriving Saturday for an anniversary of that march are finding a very different scene.

Metal barriers keep people away from the reflecting pool. Only a small group of attendees is allowed near the memorial. Everyone else has been pushed back and is watching and listening to the speeches on big-screen televisions. Police are stationed atop the Lincoln Memorial. There's a media area and VIP seating.

The anniversary event has adopted a grab-bag of causes including global warming, gay rights and organized labor.
 

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