The streets of downtown San Diego's waterfront were filled with people Saturday as locals -- many with signs in hand -- took part in the 2019 Women's March.
The nationwide movement, now in its third year, gathered on a local level at Waterfront Park, near the County Administration Building along Pacific Highway.
The peaceful demonstration featured special speakers, music, and participants united in support of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and other important topics shaping our world in 2019 including sexism, assault, the government shutdown and family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The event started at 10 a.m. with performances and speeches delivered by local leaders. The actual marching of the 1.34-mile route took place at 12 p.m., starting at Waterfront Park, then along North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway, before ending up back at Waterfront Park.
The event drew participants of all ages. Many mothers brought their daughters and sons.
This included San Diego native Danielle Lauria, participating in the march for her third year in a row. She was there with her two daughters and a group of friends. She told NBC 7 she was marching to secure a better future for her girls.
"I have two daughters and I want to make sure the world is a better place for my children and that they grow up with all the rights – that they have every opportunity that is possible," Lauria told NBC 7.
She said bringing people together from all walks of life is at the core of the event, and it's what has kept her wanting to participate since the first march in January 2017.
"We need more unification, and women need to feel like we’re equals. There’s nothing against men – we want everyone to be together, united and to work together," Lauria added. "I want my children to know that they can be strong, they need to voice their opinions, they need to be heard. We need to work together; we need to collaborate."
San Diego State University student Trinity Rodriguez was at the march with friends. This was her first time taking part in the event. She said she felt compelled to unite with others in the name of women's rights.
"I’m here today because I believe women should have more rights. We are not treated fairly in the government and I believe the government should stay away from our bodies. Clearly, it’s our body, our choice," Rodriguez told NBC 7. "We’re marching for something we believe in."
Kumeyaay Elder Virginia Christman opened the event with a prayer.
“We ask you to bless all these people today. All the women, all the women of the world,” Christman said. “We look to our families, our children – the young girls that are young now – one day you will be grown women, please, go in a good journey of your life, do not let no one abuse you. Do not let anyone hurt you.”
The emcee for this year's Women's March San Diego was South Bay leader Nora E. Vargas. She spoke with NBC 7 Thursday about the importance of the event.
At Saturday's march, she spoke to the crowd about the significance of this year's event landing on the weekend that we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Vargas shared her favorite quote from Dr. King with the crowd: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
"And we’re here because we knew we’re stronger together!" Vargas added. "We know that only by speaking truth to power can our communities build power. We know that by sticking together our communities are stronger."
Other speakers on the roster included Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery, and Carlsbad City Councilmember Dr. Priya Bhat-Patel, to name a few.
Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins was supposed to attend the event but had to pull out due to illness. She released a statement in support of the march via Twitter.
Gonzalez-Fletcher spoke about the importance of bringing her husband, county supervisor Nathan Fletcher, to the march, because, as she put it, “it is important we have allies who are men and stand with strong women and we highlight that as well.”
“We’re marching for our four sons as well because what’s happening in Washington is not a good example for those young boys,” she added. “What is happening here is the perfect example for those young boys on what we can achieve when we do it together, hand-in-hand.”
Musicians partaking in the event include San Diego-based spoken word artist Cedrice, The Resizters – a protest cover song band – singers Lisa Sanders and Lindsay White, and the San Diego Women’s Chorus.
White sang a song called “Let Love Lead the Way,” which included the lyrics: “We are the women, we have the power to save your days.”
Cedrice wrote a song called “Women” based on her journey of growing into womanhood.
“What’s it gonna take to be a woman? Is it going to hurt to be a woman?” she sang. “What’s it gonna mean to be a woman?”
Since January 2017, the Women’s March San Diego has drawn solid crowds of women, men and children marching in solidarity.
The big push at last year's Women's March was to get out and vote in the 2018 elections.
Today, America's 116th Congress is like none other, with more women serving than ever before, and a new generation of minorities is creating a House more aligned with the population of the United States. Nancy Pelosi made history by being elected again to the post of House Speaker. Still, the Republican side in the House is made up of mostly white men.
This year, with the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act, the Women's March also called the safety of women to attention.
"What we’re really trying to do is ensure that we emphasize that it's really important to protect sexual assault victims," Vargas told NBC 7 earlier this week.
Linda Brawley is pro-choice and told NBC 7 the Supreme Court and the Kavanaugh hearings are driving her to walk.
"They only need one or two more votes, and they can overturn Roe versus Wade," she said.
This year's Women’s March is not without controversy. There have been claims of anti-Semitism among the national walk organizers.
"As a group and an organization, we absolutely are against any type of anti-Semitism, any type of hatred, anything against race or religion,” Vargas said, trying to distance the San Diego march from the national organizers.
In the end, local organizers said the march is about improving people's lives.