KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Metropolitan Kalamazoo NAACP wants to improve relationships with the community amid an ongoing sex crimes investigation involving its former president.
The organization elected a new leader with a new vision and would like a second chance. Friday night newly-elected president Wendy Fields hosted a meet and greet open to the public.
"My immediate goal is simply restoration. Restoration of relationships, restoration of trust, rebuilding of community partnerships," Fields said.
Prominent pastor and former NAACP President Strick Strickland was accused of paying teenagers for sex. Michigan State Police said they have identified at least five potential victims. On Feb. 6, Strickland denied the allegations. However they remain an issue for the NAACP.
"It definitely took a toll on membership because they felt that if we were letting something like that stay in the organization and lead, what could we do for them really?" said NAACP Board Member Vincenza Palms.
Palms sat on the membership committee and said with new leadership that the NAACP is headed in a much more transparent direction.
"We don't want people to think that just because of one individual that the whole organization was going in the same route he went," she said.
Fields said the NAACP had moved to the Douglass Community Association, 1000 W. Paterson St., and the best way to earn trust from people was to be available to them.
"Not shying away from what has happened, it's the first step in rebuilding trust we had had with the community," she said.