This Aug. 28, 1963, file photo shows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledging the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington.(Photo: AP)
President Barack Obama will join former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton at the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Obama says he considers the 1963 march and the Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" speech a "seminal event."
He says the anniversary is a good time to reflect on how far the country has come and still has to go, however he's making clear that his speech won't hold a candle to Martin Luther King Jr.'s seminal address.
"Let me just say for the record right now, it won't be as good as the speech 50 years ago," said Obama, who added that he was still working on the address that he will deliver from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday.
"I just want to get that out there early. Because when you are talking about Dr. King's speech at the March on Washington, you're talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history. And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation I think is unmatched."
Obama's comments came in an interview with Tom Joyner Show that aired on Tuesday.
"And so all I can do on an occasion like this," he said, "is just to celebrate the accomplishments of all of those folks whose shoulders we stand on and then remind people that the work is still out there for us to do, and that we honor his speech but also, more importantly in many ways, the organization of the ordinary people who came out for that speech.
"We honor them not by giving another speech ourselves - because it won't be as good - but instead by just doing the day-to-day work to make sure this is a more equal and more just society."
The president also said in the interview that King would have approved of his signature health care law.
"Well, because I think he understood that health care, health security is not a privilege," Obama said. "It's something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everybody should have access to."