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Women’s March San Diego Enters Third Year With New Focus

About 37,000 people joined the Women's March in downtown San Diego, January 2...

Credit: Milan Kovacevic

Above: About 37,000 people joined the Women's March in downtown San Diego, January 20, 2018.

Tens of thousands of people turned out in San Diego to support the Women's March in 2017. The event started up in Washington D.C. and soon became a global event.

The next San Diego Women's March is scheduled for Saturday, January 19.

Nora Vargas is a keynote speaker for the San Diego Women's March. Vargas is an executive with Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest and serves on the governing board for Southwestern Community College. She sat down with KPBS Evening Edition host Ebone Monet to discuss Vargas' expectations for the this year's march, and the tangible changes she felt were made by the 2017 event.

Here are some highlights from that interview.

Video by Kris Arciaga

Q: What was your reaction to the huge turnout, right from the gate?

A: You know it gave me a lot of hope and a lot of excitement. Many of us had worked really hard during the 2016 election, and the results were not the type of results that we wanted. And as we have seen in the last three years, the policies that have come up have really impacted our communities, particularly communities like San Diego. And so the Women’s March really is a place for hope, at the beginning of the year as we’re starting off, and that was what 2017 was really about. It was really about hope and about people coming together, and energized about really moving forward together as a state, and as a nation.

Q. You know thousands of people came out (last year). What are you anticipating this year?

A. We’re hoping for everyone to come out, and make sure that we continue to show solidarity as a community. And rain or shine it’s going to happen. You know it’s just such a wonderful feeling when you’re marching and you’re there. There’s kids, there’s families, there’s grandma, you know, grandparents, and really people coming together. People with their networks, people with their communities, you know. So like, I live in the South Bay. And there we have this contingency of the Women’s March and there’s a North County contingency. So it really is about community and bringing people together.

Q: On a national level, the Women’s March has received some backlash recently. One of the founders was accused of not denouncing some anti-Semitic rhetoric. How has that conflict on the national level impacted the local chapter? Or what are you doing to make sure it doesn’t?

A: So you know, it’s really important to note that the local San Diego chapter is not connected to the national chapter. We don’t get any funding from them. You know there was a decision that was made to continue to use the same logo at the national level and at the state level. And you know at one point people had all sorts of different logos that they were using for the Women’s March. And they decided that we were gonna use one logo. So that we’re, you know, united and one front. But the reality is that we all, the local march, specifically the San Diego march has been vocal about (not) being anti-Semitic. We don’t support any type of hate around religion or race or any issues like that. So for us it’s really important that people know that this march, in San Diego specifically, is really about bringing people together.

Q: And speaking of that, sometimes people get together and then the march is over and everyone goes back to their respective places. Have you seen any tangible change come from these marches?

A: Yeah, so what’s really exciting about the march is, I think, I do believe that the wave that we just saw in Washington D.C., the new Congress, is really a reflection of the work that’s been taking place since 2017. I think it was really an opportunity for people to come together and not only march but we march to the voting booth, right? That was a real conversation that we had during 2018. And then at the local level you’ll see that many of us got elected into offices–a lot of diversity, a lot of really differences, different opinions, and ideologies. A lot of women getting elected into office in the county of San Diego as well. So the march has been bigger than that. It sort of laid the foundation for all of us to come together and really kind of continue this work. There’s still a lot of work to be done. I mean, there’s a lot of dialogue that has to happen between our communities and a lot of issues we still have to work on. But I think that this has been hopeful in how we’ve been moving forward.

Editor's note: Nora Vargas told KPBS she misspoke in the interview. She meant to say the San Diego Women's March is not anti-Semitic. This story was revised to reflect that change.

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