Continued from page 1

“If I can see an African-American president, then I believe Dr. Martin Luther King would be smiling. But we still have a long way to go,” she said.

The day began with a group that numbered well into the hundreds staging a morning march that passed sites relevant to the civil rights movement — including the headquarters of the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor as well as the federal courthouse in the District — before heading to the Lincoln Memorial despite soggy morning weather.

“It’s an awesome turnout,” said Van White, a Rochester, N.Y., attorney who organized the event. “You know with the rain and people were anxious about making sure they got to see the president, there was that tension.”

The marchers arrived at the Mall at about 10:30, exacerbating delays at the checkpoint.

The mass of people waiting, which more resembled a crowd than a line, periodically broke into cries of “Let us in” and other chants.

Sharon Ford of Wheaton said she waited more than two hours to get in and that organizers appeared “ill-prepared.”

“For a city that’s used to marches and events, it should have been much more prepared,” she said, adding that waiting so long for additional metal detectors was “absurd.”

Clarence Butler, 72, of Boston, agreed.

“This is very poor management to secure the life of our president of the United States. One gate to allow thousands in is insufficient,” he said.

But Patricia Hollers, 49, from Dallas, took the wait in stride.

“It took a long time to get through the line,” she said, “but I know there’s going to be a president and two former presidents so I expected high security,”

⦁ Andrea Noble contributed to this report.