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March on Washington: Preparations underway for 50th anniversary

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- Beneath the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, preparations are underway for Wednesday's 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

At Saturday’s celebration and march in the very same spot, tens of thousands joined together in the lead up to the actual anniversary that will take place just 48 hours from Monday.

"I am glad to see it is a continuation of the progress we have made," says District resident Melvin Lindsey.

The march for jobs and justice will start off Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The 1.6-mile route begins at 600 New Jersey Avenue and passes by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Justice Department, and the Washington Monument. It will end at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

In a fitting tribute 50 years later, the country’s first African-American president will speak in his place, and Mr. Obama will be joined by former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, who will also make remarks.

"It will be interesting to see how the next 50 years go, and hopefully we will be in a place that we can't imagine at this point in terms of equality on the different levels," says D.C. resident Erin Higgins.

Curtis Hampton came to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Monday night to capture on camera a place that means so much to him

Hampton lives just north of Atlanta – Dr. King’s birthplace. He traveled all the way from home to participate in Saturday’s March on Washington, and to witness the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream" speech Wednesday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Hampton believes some communities in our country are doing a better job of living up to King’s ideals of equality, while other communities remain a work in progress.

Maryland residents Audrey and Shelby Butler plan on watching again this year, as Shelby was here for both the 40th and 45th anniversaries.

"It's quite emotional," she said.

"When you get someone that is willing to pioneer and make a change, that truly is what gets people involved and it activates," said Audrey. "It's sort of like that one little pebble that you throw out in the river and it causes this ripple."

The March for Jobs and Justice will precede the remarks that will be made at the Lincoln Memorial, and when it ends, the 'Let Freedom Ring' commemoration and 'Call to Action' ceremony will take center stage – with a host of featured speakers taking the podium, including Oprah Winfrey.

At 3 p.m., the moment the world heard Dr. King’s dream of racial unity and equality, bells will toll across the country, as all of the nation pauses to remember and look forward.

"It's a lifetime of history happening right here, so it's really exciting," says area resident Sean Raymond.

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