BLACK. WOMAN. EVANSTONIAN. COMMUNITY ORGANIZER.
Darlene is a public servant and community organizer in the 2nd Ward, with a passion both for directly helping those in immediate need and for changing existing systems of power to center marginalized voices.
She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Feeding the Village Evanston, a not-for-profit grassroots community organization that provides food to families in need in Evanston and the Chicagoland area, and is an active volunteer for outreach programs for incarcerated men and women. She is a Board member of both the Democratic Party of Evanston, and the Evanston Community Lake & Garden. Currently, she is an active member of Reclaim Evanston, a founding member of Evanston United, Robert Crown Accountability and has previously served as the committee chair of the Evanston Voter Initiative.
Darlene’s family first came to Evanston in the 1940’s, migrating from the south and joining other Black families in Evanston’s segregated 5th Ward. Racially restrictive covenants prohibited Black families from owning homes outside of racialized zoning ordinances. As Evanston's Black populations increased, her family permanently settled in the 2nd Ward.
Living in the 2nd Ward Darlene's parents raised 6 children. During this time, the Murrays helped cultivate deep traditions of community, care and accountability through networking, sharing resources and making time to dialogue with one another. Darlene recalls this as a time where neighbors looked out for others, thinking in terms of outcomes and solidarity.
Darlene is proud of her family's history in the 2nd Ward, where she continues to reside with her husband Ronnie of 23 years, raising their son, Ameer.
She remains connected to her community's history of resilience and the energy around collective action in difficult situations and is deeply invested in its culture, growth and safety.
A True Representative
Maintaining a healthy democracy is about more than electing officials to make decisions. Democracy is about the collective. We live in a city where the interests of residents are often ignored even when it comes to policies that will directly impact their livelihoods. Too often, the city council operates without forthrightness and critical votes are passed without community input.
As 2nd Ward alderwoman, Darlene will make decisions based on the needs of the residents in the community, and not outside interests. To accomplish this, she will be proactive in her ability to generate dialogue around forthcoming issues. Her outreach will include regular community surveys, open office hours, and community coffee chats. These spaces of community engagement will allow her to leverage your voice. Darlene will ensure marginalized community members have a seat at the table.
In addition to her priorities of ensuring political accountability, openness, and community inclusion, Darlene’s work will first and foremost be to advance equity in Evanston.
One of the most significant ways to advance equity in Evanston is to preserve and increase affordable and accessible housing options. Darlene will work with 2nd Ward residents and existing community organizations to create plans to meet the needs of citizens. Some of the initiatives Darlene will introduce or support include: the city of Evanston directly purchasing rental units, down payment assistance and other income qualifying purchase programs, work to reallocate funds to restore Evanston's First Time Buyer Program, and work alongside contract builders to acquire vacant properties for redesign so that low income families have access to home-ownership.
The Bottom Line
As 2nd Ward Alderwoman, Darlene will bring her experiences and commitment to transparency and accountability to the city council to champion a more equitable Evanston that better serves all of its residents.