A call for community members to engage in discussions aimed at ending capital punishment led to vibrant table talk Monday at the 4th annual “All People’s Breakfast” at Colorado College.

The event to honor the legacy and vision of civil rights leader and pastor Martin Luther King Jr. drew about 200 people.

Marking the 105 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the celebration of King’s 84th birthday, civic leaders and the executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Diann Rust-Tierney, spoke on the importance of community involvement to end capital punishment in respect to King’s works and philosophy on the issue.

“It’s been four decades since his death and we want to keep his memory alive,” Rust-Tierney said. “MLK Jr. stood for a world without violence and the death penalty is all about violence.”

Rust-Tierney emphasized replacing the death penalty with a life sentence. She said society should focus on addressing violence at a young age and engage in conversation on capital punishment.

“We must live every minute with understanding,” Rust-Tierney said. “It’s amazing the change young people can make when they get involved.”

CC students facilitated “table talk” among attendees to allow them to reflect on the messages presented and encourage courageous conversation and action.

“I think it’s a great way to come together as a community,” said Roger Smith, director of Colorado College’s Minority and International Students Office. “It’s a way to be analytical of tough issues and discuss tangible ways to make change real in our community.”

Danielle Allen, a teacher at ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch, had the day off but said she attended the breakfast because she enjoyed it so much last year.

“I enjoy the community coming together and celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and what he stood for,” Allen said. “I don’t think his dream has been fulfilled yet and I want to be apart of fulfilling it.”

Danielle’s husband, Tim, said he appreciated the opportunity to discuss a deep and fundamental topic with other community members.

“Our table had a very fruitful conversation and I thought the keynote speaker’s message was a good launch point for dialogue,” Allen said. “I think the spirit of MLK Jr. would want us to continue to fight the issue until we see it all the way through.”

President of the Colorado Springs Alumni Chapter Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Brian Arrington said he hopes conversation at the event will empower community members to keep it going and realize how the issue of capital punishment affects the community.

“We’re here to honor the legacy of Dr. King and the legacy that calls us to change the world for the better,” Arrington said.