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January 30, 2013

Greater Terre Haute Branch of NAACP swears in new leadership

TERRE HAUTE — Wabash Valley civil rights leaders are ready to start a new push for social equality and the elimination of racial hatred through the local branch of the NAACP.

The recently elected leadership of the Greater Terre Haute Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People took their oaths of office to begin new two-year terms Monday night at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church on South 15th Street.

This comes as the organization is narrowing its focus to a handful of key policy and outreach objectives, said Valerie Hart-Craig, who took the oath Monday night to start her second two-year term as branch president.

The local NAACP branch plans to work to promote economic sustainability, education, health, public safety, criminal justice, voting rights and political representation, especially voter turnout, Hart-Craig said.

After taking the oath with nine other members of the NAACP leadership, Hart-Craig said she plans to push hard in her new term to get members working toward the organization’s goals and priorities. She also plans to drum up a lot more effort from young adults.

“My particular generation, we’re not out there,” Hart-Craig said. Many of the most active members of the Greater Terre Haute Branch are seniors, she noted. “It’s our turn.”

The Greater Terre Haute Branch of the NAACP has about 150 members, Hart-Craig said. The organization meets the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Vigo County Public Library.

Rev. Thomas Wood Sr. administered the oath of office to the newly elected leadership. One member, Treasurer Theressa Bynum, a former branch president, was out of town and took her oath by telephone.

In the area of political participation, the NAACP in Terre Haute is going to focus on improving voter turnout, Hart-Craig said. Nationally, the organization, which is based in Baltimore, is more focused on equality of access to polling places, she noted.

This summer, Terre Haute will host an NAACP education summit, said Dennis Bialaszewski, who was elected to an at-large position on the branch executive committee. The summit is still in the early planning stages, he said.

Wood, before administering the oath to the officers, had each elected official state his or her job within the organization. That was to remind them how they all have to work together, he said.

“We are one body,” Wood said in a prayer after the ceremony. “Without justice, we are a lost body and a lost nation.”

NAACP officers

President: Valerie Hart-Craig

First vice president: Sylvester Edwards

Second vice president: John Lang

Secretary: Drucella Thomas

Assistant secretary: Diana Hart

Treasurer: Theressa Bynum

Assistant treasurer: Oscar Session

Executive committee: Sandra Wickware, Dennis Bialaszewski, Marsha Bialaszewski

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or


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