Who We Are
Message from the President
A Message from the President
A Challenge to Stay in the Fight for Decency & Justice...
We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the pressing urgencies of the great cause of freedom… a time like this demands great leaders.
We must remember why we are in the justice business again! The Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch is to model its mission to serve the community with compassion and justice! Our long-term goal is to rebuild relationships in the community and within our organization. We are passionate about reestablishing the good name of the NAACP in our community. I know we have a lot of work to do, but the members of the Branch are the great leaders we need for a time such as this! We are ready to make a significant difference in the greater Kalamazoo community again.
This is a new day and transparency is the order of the day for all of us! I am passionate about reestablishing the good name of the NAACP in our community. I know we have a lot of work to do, but the members of the Branch are the great leaders we need for a time such as this!
We are ready to make a significant difference in the greater Kalamazoo community again. Are you ready to join us!
In the Fight for Justice...
Wendy Y. Fields
Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch History
On These Shoulders We All Stand . . .
Rev. Thomas H. Smith
First Black Kalamazoo City Commissioner
Licensed Psychiatric Nurse
Duane L. Roberts
(1965-1966 & 1973-1976)
Public School Educator
Joseph W. Whitten
Public School Educator
Dr. Otha Gilyard
Dr. Romeo Phillips
Rev. Asa Dawson
Dr. Tilman C. Cothran
Viola Gains McMillon
Honorable Alexander Lipsey
Rev. Jerry McNeely
Lola Clark Atkinson
Dr. Zawdie Abiade
Michael O. Wilson
Civil Rights Activist
Dr. Charles C. Warfield
Civil Rights Activist, Educator, Philanthropist
Dr. Carla Campbell-Jackson
Dr. Strick Strickland
Wendy Y. Fields
Since the inception of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch in 1946, the Branch has been at the forefront of the fight against discrimination in the workplace, education and housing while laying the foundation for building a congenial relationship between the police and the Black community.
Over the years, the leadership of the Branch heeded the call and rallied the community in the fight for justice in Kalamazoo as the fight for justice on the national scene grew. In June 1963, the first woman to lead the Branch, Amerrial Overton (1966-67), organized the city’s first protest for equal employment and picketed Van Avery’s Drug Store in response to its unfair hiring practices of Blacks. And as a result of the protest, the Branch was able to work with the store to create a plan that would include giving Black residents a chance at mainstream jobs in Kalamazoo.
Although many more opportunities were available to Blacks in Kalamazoo after the civil rights era, the struggle for adequate housing and access to equitable education was still a major concern for Branch leaders. In response, Joseph Whitten (1970-72) led the Branch and supported the plaintiff in the case that would desegregate the city’s public schools. Subsequently, the Board of Education rescinded the desegregation plan. As a result, the Branch reorganized in1971 and worked with the community for the next two years to finalize a desegregation plan that would give all children an opportunity at the same education.
In the years to come, the Branch would increase its focus on poor people and the homeless in Kalamazoo. Reverend Dr. Otha Gilyard (1977-79) galvanized the membership around these very important issues and spearheaded the creation of many programs that tackled the issue of homelessness in Kalamazoo alongside other social issues, including teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, and drug addiction. Many of the programs like the Safe House still exist and continue to impact people’s lives today.
Strengthening the organization and its impact on the community became the Branch’s focus over the next couple of decades. The Branch ensured the execution of the public school desegregation order (Dr. Tilman Cothran – 1989-90), reestablished the youth chapter (Malcolm Earhart – 1990-92), established a Jobs and Training and Business Plan (Viola Gains McMillian – 1993-97) and strengthened the legal redress and inter- community cooperation (Honorable Alexander Lipsey – 1998-2001).
As a lifelong educator and the State’s Education Coordinator, Dr. Charles C. Warfield (2008-2016) charged our delegation to be more actively engaged in the education and encouragement of our children and youth. Dr. Warfield was quite active in the community and continued to infuse his commitment to education with similar organizations in the greater Kalamazoo area. This strategy was essential to ensuring that children of color in Michigan were challenged to be the best and the brightest!
As advocates for underrepresented people in the greater Kalamazoo area, the men and women of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch continue to support equality, civil rights, voter mobilization and monitor equal opportunities for all people in the public and private sector in the greater Kalamazoo area.
We serve to honor those who came before, those struggling through life today and for the future generations we will never meet.
Executive Board and Committees
Wendy Y. Fields | Branch President
1st Vice President
Lola Clark Atkinson
2nd Vice President
3rd Vice President
At-Large Executive Committee
Philippa Jo Brown
Dr. Harvey Myers
J Vicki Richard
Michael R. Seals
Dr. Martha B. Warfield
Kari Hamann Toni Kennedy Kenneth Johnson
Communication Chairperson Community Coordination Chairperson Criminal Justice Chairperson
Dr. Douglas Davidson Bobby Boyd Maria Johnson/Sue Springgate
Education Chairperson Environmental Justice Chairperson Finance Chairpersons
Lola Clark Atkinson Kenneth Rowell Andrew Chaponda
Freedom Fund Chairperson Golf Outing Chairperson Housing Chairperson
Dr. Henry Cohen Dr. Harvey Myers Cory King
Labor & Industry Chairperson Membership Chairperson Political Action Chairperson
Veteran Affairs Chairperson
Monthly Membership Meetings
The Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch NAACP General Membership meets the first Tuesday of each month at 6pm at the Family Health Center (117 W. Paterson Street, 2nd Floor, Kalamazoo, MI 49007).
Guest Speaker Request
The Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP receives multiple guest speaking requests and will try our best to accommodate you. Guest speakers are given 10 minutes max to present information about their organization/cause. Please submit your request form at least 10 days prior to the next monthly meeting. We will confirm presentation details.
The Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP is a non-partisan organization.