Carol Kinkler has hope again after marching across downtown Charleston and standing in the rain — "standing strong."

Kinkler, a West Ashley resident, was one of more than 2,000 people who participated Saturday in the Charleston Women's March. The event was held in solidarity with the Women's March in Washington, D.C., and 673 similar marches around the world that drew an estimated 2.5 million protesters, according to the Women's March on Washington website.

Marchers gathered to protest President Donald Trump, his statements about women and to support issues ranging from preserving the Affordable Care Act to LGBT rights.

"I needed to have some positive reinforcement after the terrible day yesterday," Kinkler said. "Trump is not my choice. I'm very concerned about health care. I'm concerned about losing my health care."

Coverage through Obamacare has allowed her to get needed surgeries and feel healthy enough to work full time instead of 25 hours per week, she said.

"I'm not a burden on anyone else," Kinkler said. "I feel like it's a wonderful thing to be healthy and take care of yourself and be a contributing member of society. We need our leaders to hear that. I just really feel like it's important for us to get together and show that we're standing here. We're standing strong."

For Kinkler, the march and the rally were tangible examples of Charleston's community spirit and strength.

"Yesterday I felt such despair, and today I feel so much better," she said.

South Carolina saw three similar protests on Saturday.

In Columbia, at least 2,000 women filled the Statehouse steps with signs, such as "Make America Think Again" and "You Can't Comb Over Sexism." They chanted "Black Lives Matter" and "Health Care For All" before walking around the capitol grounds and to a nearby business to plan for more protests.

Rebecca Munnerlyn listened to Trump's inaugural speech and knew she had to join in at the Statehouse.

"His words are against women. His actions have been against women," Munnerlyn said, recounting Trump calling women fat and stupid and a recording where he talked about grabbing them by the genitals. "I had to come out."

Marchers also gathered in Greenville and Clemson.

In Charleston, groups departed from nine parking garages throughout downtown and converged on Brittlebank Park at noon. Videos on social media showed cars honking in support as protesters marched and cheered on the streets of downtown.

The Facebook event for the Charleston Women's March described the event as being "all about inclusivity, activism and community."

Poets Marcus Amaker and Marjory Wentworth shared a stage at the rally with several other speakers, including Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott, former County Councilwoman Colleen Condon and philanthropist and former congressional candidate Linda Ketner.

Ketner reflected on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s remarks that power at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love and justice.

"That's just the power we're gonna use to heal this nation," she said. "It's gonna be all of us together; a powerful bunch of women. All kinds of women: Immigrant women, Muslim women, Native (American) women, privileged women, poor women. ... It is we the people. It is yes we can. It is stronger together. It's liberty and justice for all."

Scott spoke about the importance of unity and working together.

"I look at what has happened in terms of this recent election as an opportunity," she said. "Challenges bring opportunity."

Courtney O'Leary, one of the event's 10 organizers, said planning for the march and rally began about two weeks ago.

"I really feel inspired by the outpouring of interest and support in this event," O'Leary said. "There is a huge, massive turnout and an outpouring of people interested in activism and equality."

Speaking to the crowd, Amy Brennan, executive director of the Charleston Center for Women, praised the work of the organizers, saying it's an example of what's needed to make change happen.

"Just look around you at what women accomplish," Brennan said. "We're conveners. We use our voice. We stand shoulder to shoulder, sister to sister, person to person and feminist to feminist in solidarity. We do not accept the rhetoric against women that we've heard that's gone without consequence in the last year."

Solidarity will be needed in order to continue to take a stand against domestic violence, gun violence and protecting people's rights under the law, she said. 

"We have an obligation to one another and to future generations to get this right," Brennan said. "We have to remember to tell all the little girls, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every opportunity in the world. We must get this right. ... We must not stop today. Today is only the beginning."

Caitlin Byrd and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.