At least 200 people turned out Saturday morning for the Power of Hope Women's Rally at the Linn County Courthouse in Albany.

The event, organized by Rural Oregon Progressives and Albany Region Indivisible, was meant to give a voice to those who oppose the words and actions of the Trump administration.

Such a modest number was in fact a component of a nationwide action, which commemorated the first event one year ago, on January 21, 2017. The Albany rally joined thousands of protesters in cities across the nation, including Washington, D.C., where the original march — which attracted some 500,000 people alone — followed President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Albany resident Christine Webb, who was at that first DC march, told the mid-valley crowd Saturday that they are all glimmers of hope that form a beacon.

"We don't want to go from a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance," she shouted.

Other such slogans, emblazoned on signs, echoed the frustration of the many thousands in the movement. "Make America care about facts again," read one. "We are all immigrants," read another.

But while the cause continues one year in, some in conservative circles have criticized it as nothing more than organized complaining. Fox News opinion writer Jen Kerns asked Saturday morning whether the march was a genuine movement or "just group therapy for Trump haters." She also raised the point that for the movement to become more than a protest it needs to become politically active.

In fact, proponents this year are actively recruiting political candidates and signing people up to vote. The plan, say organizers, is to make huge strides in the mid-term election. Webb talked about the "Blue Wave" she and other organizers expect in the 2018 midterm elections, where many Senate and House seats are up for grabs.

While the movement targets the president's policies toward immigration, his remarks and attitudes toward women, and his most recent remarks about the quality of the countries many of our immigrants come from, Trump tweeted his support for the march, declaring it a great way for women to celebrate.

"Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months," he tweeted. "Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!"

Meanwhile, in Albany, Linn County resident Denise Hughes-Tafen, an immigrant from the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda who holds a PhD in cultural studies for education and social foundations of education, spoke about the struggle in this country for people with dark skin.

"We have been fighting for a very long time for our rights as human beings," she said.

Hughes-Tafen also told the crowd to stay active and aware while Trump is in office.

"Now that we have awoken," she said, "it's important once we pass through this that we don't fall back asleep."

Contact reporter Neil Zawicki at 541-812-6099 or neil.zawicki@lee.net

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