Group to hold march Saturday for community unity


Daily Egyptian file photo

By Amelia Blakely

On the six-month anniversary of the fatal shooting that led to its formation, the Women for Change will lead a March for Unity through Carbondale.

The march will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the corner of Monroe and Marion Street, according to Ginger Rye, the organization’s president.

After a shooting in March that killed 19-year-old Javon Trott, Rye said she decided Carbondale needed a group to raise awareness about issues like crime, unemployment, racism and drugs.


The march will serve as the group’s introduction to the community and an opportunity to bring awareness to the organization’s key issues, Rye said.

“We believe we’re better together and we’re stronger together,” Rye said.

Rye said the shooting happened across the street from her house, about 350 feet away. Rye – a mother of four, a grandmother of 16 and a great-grandmother of two — said on that particular afternoon, her grandson was walking to her house and was in the line the fire.

“By the grace of God, he wasn’t hit,” Rye said.

But, she added, he witnessed the teenager’s death.

When she saw the police walking her grandson over to her from across the street, she said it was a wake-up call. She formed Women for Change days later.

Rye described the organization as a “street awareness program,” in which members are planted firmly within the community and are therefore invested in solving Carbondale’s problems.


“Their issues are our issues too,” Rye said. “We’re lifting them up and coming together.”

Rye said another focus of the group is to draw attention to Carbondale’s poorer neighborhoods, like the city’s northeast side, because she said city officials don’t seem to pay much attention to them.

Crime prevention is another major concern of the group.

Susan Harper, the group member who planned the march, said community safety is important to her.

She said the shooting happened right outside her window.

“It just really grabbed me,” said Harper. “It’s time to get back involved.”

The organization already has a few ideas for improving the city, members said.

Deborah Woods, vice president of the group, said she joined because she did not like the direction in which her neighborhood was going and felt like she could make a difference.

One of the organization’s projects is a garden located at 511 Large St., which is intended to educate the neighborhood about healthy eating and to beautify the area, Woods said.

She said they plan to bring children to the garden to learn about gardening and to give them their own flowers and vegetables to plant at home.

Harper, who has lived in Carbondale all her life, said throughout her childhood there were active community members creating positive environments and unifying their neighborhoods.

Though Harper said the northeast side where she grew up has changed and drift apart, the organization hopes to change that.

“We’re trying to build it back up,” she said.

The march will go down Marion Street before turning at East Willow Street toward Attucks Park.

At the park, there will be a short program with inspirational speakers, dancers, singers and a few words from the Mayor Mike Henry. There will also be face-painting, a craft station and bouncy houses for children.

Woods said she hopes the march will bring people with the same desire to change their community for the better.  

“When you want to do right, you’ll find an audience,” Woods said.

Staff writer Amelia Blakely can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.