By ELLEN LOUCKS
“Yes sir! We are on the move now.”
On the morning of Monday, Jan. 15, hundreds of individuals from Colorado College and the wider Colorado Springs community gathered in the Reid Arena at El Pomar Sports Center. There, lively chatter filled the air as ethnically diverse attendees joined together around tables brimming with breakfast platters to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50 year anniversary of his assassination.
The All People’s Breakfast began with opening remarks from CC President Jill Tiefenthaler, Student Body President Dorsa Djalilzadeh ’18, President’s Council Student Representative Ethan Greenberg ’20, and Black Student Union Representative Donovan Dickey-Banmally ’19. They warmly welcomed attendees to CC and thanked all contributors who had helped make the event possible.
Following this welcome, Sebrena Forrest, a returning guest and a member of the Mohawk Nation, opened with a prayer. She set the tone of the breakfast with the words, “I have a whole lot more reasons to love you than to reject you.” Forrest told her audience that despite America’s segregated past, they have the resources within themselves to solve any problem. She urged the attendees to move towards the future with confidence and hope.
Director of the Empowerment Solidarity Network, hip-hop emcee, poet, and activist, Kevin C. Mitchell, mounted the stage next. Mitchell addressed the audience with a spoken word piece titled, “US.” In this, he reminded his audience that the key to overcoming all things is togetherness.
Subsequently, the Women in Red gospel choir filed solemnly onto the stage to the music of slow piano chords under the direction of the Rev. Dennis Mose. Upon arranging themselves, the choir filled the gym with rich, powerful tones, including the songs “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine.”
Afterwards, Rosemary Lytle, President of the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming State Conferences, delivered a speech titled, “Reflections on the Promised Land.” She exhorted her audience to embody King’s unfinished work as a “warrior of peace.” Lytle alluded to imagery of one surveying the promised land of racial inclusion from the vantage point of a mountain top and implored the current generation to take action. At the climax of her speech, smatterings of applause grew to shouts of approval, and it culminated in a standing ovation from the audience.
“Today I want to say to the people of America, and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around,” Lytle proclaimed. “Yes sir! We are on the move now. Yes sir! Yes, we are on the move and no pain or racism can stop us. Yes sir! We are on the move now.”
Following the speech, CC student Trevon Newmann ’18 channeled Lytle’s energy into a moving and dramatic choreographed interpretation to Dr. King’s speech, “How Long, Not Long.”
The All People’s Breakfast concluded with a Table Topic Discussion titled, “Living the Legacy: A Call to Action,” in which tablemates discussed strategies to live out the speakers’ messages of a more unified country, in their own lives.
According to attendee Trina Lawrence, a case manager from Colorado Springs, the All People’s Breakfast provides a “pleasant atmosphere and brings all people together.” She asserted that “we are all together at the end of the day.”
While half a century has elapsed since Dr. King’s assassination, his legacy continues. As exemplified in the multiracial yet inclusive setting of the All People’s Breakfast, a common passion for diverse harmony empowers individuals to become one in Dr. King’s still-applicable dream for “an oasis of freedom and justice.”