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And speak Mr. Lewis did — but his words were tempered.

Gone was the call to march “through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did,” and the phrase “which side is the federal government on?”

While other phrasing was also changed, Mr. Barry, whose political and personal salvos have been heard around the world, said as young revolutionaries they got their points across.

“We were red hot,” he said. “To have John speak, to see all those people, meant our hard work [and] risking our lives was paying off.

“We were a band of brothers [and sisters], a circle of trust,” Mr. Barry added.

Whether that solidarity will be seen and heard during the last weekend of August for the anniversary is unclear.

Some groups are rallying around a do-it-for-Trayvon Martin call, and others plan to cite the need for D.C. statehood. Still others simply want to pay homage to the ancestors of the civil rights movement.

So the messages and the messengers will be plentiful.

The key is to make sure it doesn’t become an all-black thing, which, after all was said and done, was the most important message on Aug. 28, 1963.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.