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Thousands commemorate MLK "I Have A Dream" speech

The eldest son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says blacks can rightfully celebrate his father's life and work with pride, but much more must be accomplished.

Martin Luther King III, preparing to join ceremonies Wednesday commemorating the 50th anniversary of his father's "I Have a Dream" speech, says the country should confront "staggering unemployment" among black males 18 to 30 years old.

He called Barack Obama's election as the first African-American president a major breakthrough for America. But King also told NBC's "Today" show in an interview that he believes young blacks today still "are first judged by their color and then the content of their character."

King said his father deftly used the lofty words of the Founding Fathers "to inspire, lift up and bring hope."

The Rev. Bernice King opened the celebration of her father's famous "I Have a Dream" speech Wednesday with an interfaith service in Washington.

King said that her father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is often remembered as a freedom fighter for equal rights and human rights. But she said he was most importantly a man of faith. She says he was a prophet and "faith leader" and it was that "and the spirit of God that infused that movement."

Bernice King said the faith community must continue to lead every movement for justice and equality.

The opening service Wednesday included Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Sikh, and other Christian faith leaders celebrating King's legacy.

Other speakers are the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the National Cathedral; Catholic Archbishop Donald Wuerl (wurl) of Washington; Rabbi Achonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly; Imam Mohamed Magid of the Islamic Society of North America and others.

President Barack Obama won't need to mention race when he stands at the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

His presence as the nation's first black president will embody one fulfilled goal of the thousands who rallied 50 years ago today and heard Martin Luther King Jr.'s soaring "I Have a Dream" speech.

Obama will be joined at Wednesday's celebrity-studded ceremony by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, as well as the daughters of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Obama says he considers the 1963 march a "seminal event" and the anniversary a good time to reflect on how far the country has come and still has to go.

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