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King Memorial dedication Sunday to feature Gwen Ifill, Jesse Jackson, Aretha Franklin

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“PBS NewsHour’s” Gwen Ifill will moderate the dedication ceremony Sunday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the foundation that built the memorial announced Tuesday.

The dedication program will begin at 9 a.m. and culminate in the 11 a.m. dedication in the forecourt of the memorial, on Independence Avenue just southwest of the World War II Memorial. President Obama is scheduled to be the keynote speaker.

The dedication is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required. A public viewing area will be available in a large field in West Potomac Park, west of the memorial, and the proceedings will be telecast on huge TV screens.

Spectators are encouraged to bring their own picnic blankets and chairs. Gates will open at 6 a.m. and the public may access West Potomac Park via four gates on Independence Avenue SW.

Civil rights leaders such as Julian Bond, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), Marian Wright Edelman, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others, are scheduled to speak.

Also scheduled to speak are members of the King Family, and former network news anchor Dan Rather, who covered the civil rights movement early in his career.

Musical and spoken tributes by, among others, poet Nikki Giovanni, music ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock and singers Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Holliday also are scheduled, the foundation said.

Vice President Biden, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, are set to attend.

The foundation said Herman “Skip” Mason, general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which launched the drive for memorial, will also be present, along with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The dedication ceremonies will be preceded by an 8 a.m. hour-long “Morning Joy” music program, hosted by journalist and commentator Roland S. Martin, the foundation said.

The memorial’s original dedication was scheduled for Aug. 28, on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. But it had to be postponed because of Tropical Storm Irene.

The $120 million memorial, located on the northwest shore of the Tidal Basin, has been open the public since Aug. 22.

“Sunday’s dedication will be a wonderful way to celebrate the life, the dream, and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C .Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.

“Although our plans have been scaled back, I am confident Sunday’s event will be momentous for all who join us in West Potomac Park and those who tune in from across the country and around the world to witness this long-awaited moment in our nation’s history.”

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