THE MOST FREQUENTLY expressed fear before the Million Man March was that it would anoint Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic head of the Nation of Islam, as the singular African-American leader. Two months later, there is scant evidence that has happened. And with the naming of the charismatic Kweisi Mfume to head the NAACP, there is less reason for those, who insist black people need a principal spokesman, to look to Mr. Farrakhan to fill that role.
Mr. Farrakhan has been treated with more deference by former critics since succeeding in bringing tens of thousands to Washington. But there has been no post-march rush to swear fealty to the NOI.
While the appointment of Mr. Mfume may not dramatically increase the NAACP's membership either, his popularity could help erase some of the disillusionment that at last month's National African American Leadership Summit saw even the Rev. Jesse Jackson criticized as being ineffective.
Such criticism actually reflects the spirit of the Million Man March, which, rather than securing allegiance to Mr. Farrakhan, Mr. Jackson or any "leader," generated personal commitments by individuals to go home and make a difference where they live.
The appointment of Mr. Mfume to head the NAACP doesn't make the Maryland congressman the black people's "leader," but it does place an exclamation point on the message of the Million Man March. Unlike Mr. Farrakhan, whose racist baggage is an impediment, Mr. Mfume's past rejection of the NOI's intolerance should allow him to use the positive feelings engendered by the march to reinvigorate the NAACP and strengthen its bonds to all who believe in equal opportunity.