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TODAY   |  August 28, 2013

Obama to honor MLK anniversary with speech

President Obama will be speaking at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream,” speech 50 years ago Wednesday. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>> thank you, this is the 50th anniversary of martin luther king 's i have a dream speech and to mark the occasion the president will deliver his own speech from the very spot where dr. king gave his address. krist kristen welker has the story. good morning.

>> good morning. president obama delivered a number of big speeches before but this one is different. he'll be speaking in the shad dose of dr. king. a man that gave his life fighting for civil rights , so, today, the stakes couldn't be higher.

>> i have a dream.

>> reporter: they are words that helped change a nation and pave the way for this historic moment.

>> i barrack obama .

>> reporter: so when the first black president stands on the steps of the lincoln memorial today, in the same place as dr. martin luther king , jr., there's great expectations.

>> everyone is excited about it.

>> he needs to stress that the work of the civil rights movement is not finished.

>> reporter: aids admit the president feels the pressure. mr. obama tried to lower the anticipation.

>> it won't be as good as the speech 50 years ago.

>> are comparisons inevitable? sure. but he's looking forward to the opportunity.

>> reporter: the president's remarks will focus on progress made and challenges that lie ahead.

>> as the original speech was about not just civil rights but it was about jobs and i think he'll talk about that and it will also be a message to the next generation.

>> reporter: but obama critics called on the president to do more than talk.

>> where racism and poverty are concerned, there's no excuse on not talking about it. we have to move on to start to emulate king with our deeds.

>> reporter: this isn't the first time the president has spoken against's today's backdrop. five years ago he accepted his nomination in denver on the 45th anniversary. but this moment is different.

>> it's one thing to talk about the greatness of the moment and history and give beautiful words but what people want to come away with say call to action . that's what the 1953 speech was.

>> president obama will be fine tuning his speech throughout the day. not unusual for this president. he consulted with civil rights leaders , faith leaders and placed a personal phone call to john l john lewis , the last living speecher from that march.

>> can you imagine the pressure? even from a president used