'Million Man March' finishes with demonstrators tired but inspired, ready to take message home

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON Black men energized by the huge rally in the nation's capital began spreading the spirit yesterday, making plans to clean up inner-city neighborhoods back home, register voters and simply help each other survive.

As Washington got back to normal, meanwhile, both black and white members of Congress urged President Clinton to create a commission to study America's racial divisions.

Organizers of the ''Million Man March'' celebrated their success and accused the government of a racist undercount the 400,000 estimated by the U.S. Park Service.

After Monday's long day of prayer, songs and speeches, many men traveled all night by bus, car or train to return home in time for work yesterday, tired but still inspired by the brotherhood they felt on the national Mall. Others who only saw the event on TV said they too were uplifted.

''I hope it reverberates around the country in energizing people right where they are,'' Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, told ABC-TV.

BALTIMORE WANTED: Skilled manager with unquestioned integrity and ability to be national spokesman and day-to-day leader of troubled national civil rights group.

More than a year after Benjamin Chavis was fired for secretly using NAACP money to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit against him, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is still looking for an executive director.

The search committee that was supposed to submit one name to the board at a three-day meeting that starts tomorrow in Baltimore was still interviewing candidates this week. And it may not come up with a choice in time.

''We had an unusually large number of applicants. It's just taking a long time,'' Julian Bond, a member of the seven-person committee, said yesterday.

But some critics said there's another reason the nation's oldest and largest civil rights group (86 years old, 500,000 members) is taking so long to pick a leader.

''Nobody wants the job,'' said Michael Meyers, a former assistant NAACP national director who now heads the New York Civil Rights Coalition. ''The NAACP is dead, and everybody knows it.''

Even some board members agreed the NAACP has slipped from its leading role in the struggle for civil rights. The NAACP refused to endorse Monday's Million Man March in Washington, which Chavis helped organize with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

BOSTON Revisiting a painful episode in Boston's racial history, a black man falsely fingered as a suspect in the slaying of a pregnant white woman is suing the police, accusing them of violating his civil rights.

Police were so hot to solve the murder that they pressured teen-agers to identify William Bennett as the man who killed Carol DiMaiti Stuart, Bennett's lawyer Steven Rappaport told a federal jury yesterday. Mrs. Stuart was shot as she left a childbirth class with her husband in October 1989.

''What this case focuses on is (police) attempts and agreements amongst themselves . to pin the rap on William Bennett,'' Rappaport said. ''In fact, they did coerce certain witnesses.''

Bennett, 45, is seeking unspecified damages.

A lawyer for the five officers being sued countered that there was plenty of reason to suspect Bennett, a career criminal, including testimony from two teen-agers who said they heard Bennett's nephew brag about his uncle's role in the crime.

''It is his purpose to get money from you, money that he does not deserve,'' attorney Chris Muse said. The police officers ''do not deserve to be punished for doing their job.''

WASHINGTON U.S. peacekeepers in Bosnia probably would include 2,000 to 3,000 reservists, Clinton administration officials said yesterday. They assured uneasy lawmakers the Americans would be heavily armed to defend themselves and would be there no longer than a year.

While acknowledging the risk of casualties, the officials said the U.S. force of some 20,000 troops would be equipped with tanks, backed by ships and planes and armed with orders to fight back if attacked.

''This NATO force in Bosnia will be the biggest, the toughest, the meanest dog in town,'' Defense Secretary William Perry said. ''If attacked by anyone, it will bring a large hammer down on them immediately.''

That assurance appeared to raise fears among some lawmakers that the effort could lead the United States into a quagmire, even though the troops would not arrive until after a peace agreement is reached among the warring parties.

''It seems contradictory to me,'' said Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. ''If there were a real peace, we wouldn't need 60,000 (NATO) troops.''

Perry, along with Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee in the first of four high-profile committee appearances over two days on the NATO peace implementation force, or ''I-FOR.''

WASHINGTON Determined to ensure passage of their huge budget-balancing bill, House Republican leaders agreed yesterday to boost Medicare reimbursements for rural America and considered other late changes in Medicaid and various environmental provisions.

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