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Today's Million Man March, a grass-roots gathering of African-American men in Washington, has captured the attention of black media and ad executives though some won't be observing the "day of atonement" requested by organizer Louis Farrakhan.

The Nation of Islam leader asked that African-American men not work, play professional sports, shop, go to school or entertain today because of the rally. But for some businessmen this presents a problem.

"As an entrepreneur, it's counterproductive for me or my staff not to come to work," said Jo Muse, chairman-executive creative director at Muse Cordero Chen, Los Angeles, which specializes in targeting minorities. Mr. Muse said none of his employees requested the day off and that he would have attended himself if his schedule wasn't so full.

"Some of our staff is going," said Byron Lewis, chairman of UniWorld Group, New York, who wasn't attending. "However we're a business; we can't just stop."

The high visibility event might have attracted sponsors, but none appeared to have been sought. The Nation of Islam wouldn't comment.

The Wellington Group, Oaklyn, N.J., will conduct 1,000 interviews with marchers on issues such as welfare reform, police brutality, the "Contract With America" and other issues, and will provide poll data to news and media organizations for $5,000. The information also will be distributed on the Internet but will only be accessible to those who pay.

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