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Women’s March participants find inspiration in America’s youth

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt

WASHINGTON — Leah Sahni is just shy of 2 years old, but on Saturday she attended her third Women’s March.

“She spent the first one in utero,” Harleen Sahni, 36, said of his daughter. “Obviously, we think it’s really important that she has a future, that she has equal rights and that we don’t have to worry about anything happening to her.”

Firmly planted on her father’s hip, Leah gripped a balloon in the shape of a cartoon baby Donald Trump wearing a diaper, as thousands of marchers gathered in Washington’s Freedom Plaza.

Harleen Sahni with his wife, Caitlin Hopping, and daughter, Leah.Kalhan Rosenblatt / NBC News

Her mother, Caitlin Hopping, 33, recalled another march she attended — the March For Our Lives organized by the survivors of the Parkland shooting — that gave her hope for not only Leah’s future, but also the future of America.

“To see these really young kids who are pretty great orators, too, giving this wonderful message about how children are the future — I’m really happy that these have continued, and I hope that we can see more kids at the front of the marches, too,” she said.

More than a dozen parents, college students, teens and children participating in the march who spoke to NBC News on Saturday said they’re looking to the youth of today to pick up the mantle of the marchers and continue to fight for social justice and change.

Shana Henry, who brought her daughters to the march from just outside Detroit, Michigan, said she wanted to show her children how many people from all backgrounds are fighting for equality while reminding them their fight is far from over.

“I’m a fierce egalitarian, and I know our systems aren’t set up for equality right now, and so I like them to see we have a long way to go,” Henry said.

Jacinta Henry, 14, and her sister Genevieve Henry, 11, who live just outside Detroit, Michigan.Hannah Breisinger / for NBC News

Jacinta Henry, 14, and Genevieve Henry, 11, said their biggest priority is marching for LGBTQ issues. Genevieve added that a woman president is also at the top of her list.

“There’s a lot of things that need to be done differently,” Jacinta said. “But seeing really little people holding their signs, that’s powerful.“

Genevieve said protest is a common topic at her middle school, and while she said she still hears her classmates joke about things like sexual identity, she said “there are definitely people that are trying to make a change that are our age. That’s important.”

“We’re going to stop the chain of people being ignorant and not teaching their children. I think we’re going to be the one,” Jacinta added.

Across the way in Freedom Plaza, Julisa White, 23, and Sierra Stevens, 21, stood in the crowd.

White, the student body president of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida, said she doesn’t feel the older generation necessarily did anything wrong in terms of how past protests have gone. She said, however, that she feels society is progressing as a whole and that young people are more “accepting of people’s individual rights.”



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