WASHINGTON (AP) _ Participants in a civil rights anniversary march on Washington next month will be ''on the offensive'' to send the presidential candidates a message, the Rev. Joseph Lowery said Tuesday.

''It's not only a commemorative service,'' Lowery said of the march planned 25 years after the landmark civil rights conclave culminated by the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous ''I have a dream'' speech in 1963.

''After seven long, hard, difficult years of opposing this administration's efforts to dismantle affirmative action and reverse civil rights laws, there is a need now ... to go on the offensive,'' said Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization once headed by King.

''This march is an opportunity for people to ... convince the leaders of this incoming administration, whomsoever they may be, that the top priority items must be full employment and adequate wages,'' he said.

''We think it's important on this the 25th anniversay of the dream to come to Washington and say not only that we still have a dream but we have the determination to see the dream through,'' Lowery said.

Lowery and King's widow, Coretta Scott King are the co-convenors of the march, which has more than 80 supporting civil rights, human rights, women's, religious and labor organizations.

Five years ago, Mrs.King and Lowery headed up the New Coalition of Conscience, which brought more than 500,000 marchers to the base of the Lincoln Memorial in a 20th anniversary demonstration.

He said invitations will be extended to the presidential nominees of both political parties and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson to address the marchers.