Black women working to make change in Carbondale

Black women in Carbondale are coming up with ideas to make Carbondale a better community by being a part of groups like Women for Change and running for the city council.

According to the United States Census Bureau Carbondale’s population in 2021 is 24,408. About 61.55% of the population is White and 26.93% of the population is Black.

While Carbondale prides itself on being diverse, only two of Carbondale’s six council members are Black.


Councilwoman Ginger Rye-Sanders is one of the two Black women council members on city council. Sanders said after a shooting near her house, she decided she needed to do something to better her community.

She said she saw two Black men lose their lives to gun violence and her grandson being near that situation made her decide to form Women for Change. Women for Change is an organization dedicated to helping the Carbondale community and its citizens through various programs.

Sanders said while Women for Change does host a lot of programs for the community, such as gardening, entrepreneurship, and sewing to help give back, she decided she could help even more by being on the city council.

“I’m here now on city council and to represent all because after all people [need to know] what’s going on in their lives and I’m here to listen to them and to do what I can for all the people in Carbondale,” Sanders said.

Councilwoman Carolin Harvey said she has lived in Carbondale since 1971 and ran for city council in 2010. In order to get on the city council, there have to be enough people who are willing to sign a petition for someone to run, she said.

“We do what’s best for all of the citizens of Carbondale, but […]one thing that I think that my presence has done is make people more aware of the need for more minority representation and that looking at things through a different lens,” Harvey said.

Harvey said Black History Month is a time to look back on all the accomplishments Black men and women have made throughout time.


“I like to do some focus on Black history during the month of February. But it’s every day. Black people are doing extraordinary things every day of the year, and those who have come before us should be remembered every day of the year, not just from one particular month out of the year.” Harvey said.

Harvey said Black History Month should not just be limited to one month, Black history should be celebrated all year round.

“We cry at things that happen, and you wonder why it happens, but it’s a lifestyle and so, once we can get the understanding that we are making changes to black history, by the life that we live, and the love that we give to one another,” Sanders said.

Staff reporter Carolyn Dickte and assistant to the editor Janiyah Gaston can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.