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King's 'Dream' not yet realized, says March on Washington speaker

By Michael O'Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News

The "dream" of racial equality described by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago at the March on Washington has not yet been fulfilled, the last living speaker from the original march said Sunday.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights icon who spoke at the original rally where King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech, said more must be done to meet King's vision.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the only living speaker from the original March on Washington, reflects on his experience at the momentous event 50 years ago.

"We have a lot of work to do. The dream is not yet fulfilled," Lewis said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Following a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Saturday — where Lewis, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and others spoke — Lewis lauded what he called a "nonviolent revolution" since 1963 that has changed race relations in America.

That rally sets the stage, as well, for a more formal ceremony on Wednesday where President Barack Obama, the country's first African-American president, will mark King's speech with one of his own.

Lewis has spoken with Obama ahead of those remarks, but the Georgia congressman said that it's important to be mindful of the context for the president's speech.

"The president is the president. He's not a civil rights leader," Lewis said.

Watch the Aug. 25, 1963 edition of Meet the Press, featuring interviews with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilkins.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped lead a later generation of civil rights leaders, said that addressing economic inequality, the effects of gun violence and voting rights should be the focus of contemporary civil rights leaders.

And Sharpton said he hoped this week's anniversary would help spur a renewed focus on those issues.

"Marches are not set to solve a problem. They're set to show the problem, and force someone to solve it," he said.

Booker, a Democratic candidate for Senate in New Jersey, said the original March on Washington's message was that "the power of the people is greater than the people in power."

The favorite in this fall's special election, Booker said he hoped to break the partisan gridlock in Congress to secure actual achievements.

"We as a people can not allow our inability to do everything … to undermine our willingness to do something," he said.