Community Interest Picks Up on Heels of Million Man March Organizations Report Membership Increases

Article excerpt

ONE MONTH AFTER the Million Man March in Washington, civic, community and religious organizations here are citing positive responses - particularly increases in membership and involvement.

Community leaders say the call by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to join civic and religious organizations has had an impact.

While the national headquarters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People did not endorse the march, chapters in the area report more interest.

Charles Mischeaux, president of the St. Louis chapter, said his group has received about 20 telephone calls daily from African-American men since the Million Man March.

"One young man turned in a membership for his entire family," Mischeaux said.

Clarence Teeters, 72, of University City recently wrote a $500 check to the NAACP for a lifetime membership.

Teeters said he was too old to travel to the march, but he was inspired by the African-American men who went. He said the message was "positive and clear."

In the past, Teeters says, he has had yearly memberships with the NAACP, but sometimes he would allow them to lapse.

James Gray, president of the Alton chapter of the NAACP, said his group had gotten about 50 new members in the last two weeks. "It's a high number for this period of the year," he said.

Pam Bolden, of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, said her organization had received 30 requests for membership because of the Million Man March.

"We have been the benefactor of the heightened interest in volunteerism," she said. "We look forward to turning that interest into involvement in the Urban League and its programs."

Ralph Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 28B in East St. Louis said black men were joining the Nation of Islam "in great numbers."

"Every meeting we have, we have more and more people coming," he said. "This is not only in St. Louis but across the country. …