HOUSTON – Around 10,000 people took to the streets of Houston to march for women's rights. On Saturday, the Houston Women March On event kicked off its third annual march.
Starting at Cistern Waterworks and finishing at Houston's City Hall, thousands came, braving the low temperatures to have their voices heard.
"It's cold, but the energy is keeping everybody warm," Troy Scheid, a participant, said.
"It's all about women and rights, everybody's rights, and making sure those continue to exist," Maria Verdeja, one of the organizers, said.
The event, titled, "Houston Women March On" changed its name last year.
"We're an independent Texas organization. We're not affiliated with Women's March Inc. We're affiliated with a network of independent organizations called March On, and we take a stand. We denounce anti-Semitism racism and bigotry," Robin Paoli, head organizer, said.
Despite tension and controversy surrounding the national Women's March over allegations of discriminatory leadership, independent groups, like Houston's, still took to the streets to come together.
"We are fighting for women's rights and reproductive rights and immigration rights," said Toni Valle, artistic director of 6 Degrees, a dance company that performed at the event, said.
People from all walks of life came for all different reasons.
"My big message today is that we can do better with gun violence. I don't have a problem with the gun, but I have a genuine problem when bullets enter the human body," said Rhonda Hart, whose daughter was killed in the Santa Fe school shooting.
Starting the program at City Hall, however, were some of the youngest marchers who knew what they were marching for.
"To have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world," said one girl from Girls Inc.
"I want to help all women in the world and the future, too, and this will affect the future for other generations," Caoilin Krathaus, a 13-year-old participant, said.
More than 30 speakers shared their stories, inspiring hope.
"I'm here today because this is our chance to take a stand against the injustice that we see in our country," U.S. Rep. Al Green said in front of thousands at City Hall.
"These women who are working together in Congress are going to change the way things are done in Washington!" shouted newly elected U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher.
Many supporters said they hope the energy continues even after the march.