[EDITOR’S NOTE: This column – originally published in 2008 on our sister site The B-Town Blog – is in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, whose life and work we celebrate today:]

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King,
from a speech delivered in 1967

by Mark Neuman

Contemplating the Giant Triplets
I am embarrassed to admit that, at age nine, I knew more about Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch and a TV situation comedy called “F Troop” than I did about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I know this because I was watching a syndicated repeat of that silly show on the afternoon of April 4, 1968, when a news bulletin cut into regular programming to announce that Dr. King had been shot and killed earlier that day.

I did not know who he was.

I quickly got to know, in part, on the strength of my third and fourth grade teachers at Holy Rosary Elementary School in West Seattle, and then I never forgot.

Our recent handful of years
With an over half-trillion dollar burden set firmly on the backs of Americans not yet born, the powers-that-be recently bailed out the powerful who failed us.

And some number of millions of everyday Americans participated as well, in the pursuit of a piece of the glittering illusion: unbelievably rapidly appreciating equity.

Any number of common desk working brokers and agents just “did what the boss told us” to earn fast, fat commissions.

Regulators, overseers are somewhat difficult to blame. They, too, like the profits, were largely imaginary, nonexistent. Those who existed sat by, quite silent.

Today, a Senator from Illinois engenders, through no fault of his own, racist sentiments from various pockets all about our country.

And this is seven score and three years after the end of the Civil War.

And meanwhile another chunk of trillion has been thrown at a conflagration, a quagmire, in the Middle East that, inarguably, Dr. King would have opposed.

A great speech
And so I bring to you today words earnestly delivered by Dr. King, less than a year before he died. Officially it is titled: “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.”

It could quite well be subtitled: “The Giant Triplets Speech.”

It could also be called: “Please Don’t Make Our Country Look Like This in the First Decade of the 21st Century.”

If only all we Americans had recited or read, daily, his powerful words, spoken forty-one years ago:

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.”

In our modest blog offices it was suggested: Should we post and highlight this speech two days before Election Day?

We “Woodwarded and Bernsteined and Bradleed” this about. Would some be offended? Might some misunderstand?

Perhaps some will.

Some always do.

Any complaints? Send them to me.

Any credit or compliments? They go to Dr. King.

Here is a recording of, in my opinion, a stunning and timeless speech from the greatest and most courageous leader of my lifetime.

When you hear Dr. King’s words, spoken less than a year before he passed, does your heart beat fast?

I should expect and hope it would.

Perhaps your eyes water at certain points.

You’re in good company if they do, I assure.

Never heard this speech before? You are not to blame. We live in a “forget the past’ society. Additionally, Dr. King’s other stunning and courageous works, including “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” happen to overshadow his own genius, literary and oratory greatness and prescience displayed at other times in his life.

Does the speech seem familiar? Please give it a listen again, in the relative stillness of this, the day most often set aside for meaningful thought, then send a note to that Social Studies teacher from grade six, your History professor from college, your Speech Coach and thank her or him for the initial introduction.

Send the links to your nephew in the Navy, your sisters from the old sorority, your Aunt in Auburn or Alabama, your boss in Bellevue, your kid in college.

Move it along the internet line to your favorite State Rep or least favorite Congressman, the most ethical attorney you know, or maybe even the least trustworthy scumbag Wall Street suit you are glad you never met, or, perhaps, are sorry you ever did.

Print out Dr. King’s words, fold it up and send them along with warmth in your Holiday greetings later this Autumn.

And so, on this Contemplative Holiday
Let us all, now and in these crucial near years, stare down those Giant and Ugly Triplets and knock them off their high perch for good.


– Mark Neuman

And in case you haven’t heard it in a while, here’s Dr. King’s classic “I Have A Dream” speech:

And newly-released in 2016 – Dr. King’s acceptance speech for the 1964 Nobel Prize:

[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/nobelprize/videos/10153332954979103/?ft[tn]

Scott Schaefer

Founder/Publisher/Editor. Three-time National Emmy Award winning Writer (“Bill Nye the Science Guy”), Director, Producer, Journalist and more...