WSW: Revisiting MLK's "Giant Triplets" And The Poor People's Campaign

Mar 15, 2018

Credit Western Michigan University

This April 4th will mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination in Memphis. Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman says exactly one year prior to his death, King gave an important speech stating his opposition to the war in Vietnam, and calling for a revolution of values.


Wylie-Kellerman will give the keynote address for the annual Peace Service, sponsored by the Kalamazoo Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice. It begins Sunday afternoon at 5:00p.m. at First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo. The address is called “Breaking the Reign of the Giant Triplets.” That refers to King’s speech that identified racism, militarism and extreme materialism as the “giant triplets plaguing society.”

Wylie-Kellerman, an activist, writer and pastor in Detroit, says he thinks the United States has gone backwards on those issues since King’s death in 1968. He says since that time the extremes between rich and poor have grown and “become absurd.” Wylie-Kellerman says that’s part of the reason that a new “poor people’s campaign” is being launched this year.

Detroit’s issues with poverty include shutoffs of water service for many residents. Wylie-Kellerman has led protests against those shutoffs. He says Detroit is restructuring itself physically, so people are being driven out of some neighborhoods. Wylie-Kellerman says shutting off water service is one way to get people out of some of the city’s neighborhoods.

Much has been made of Detroit’s revitalization. Wylie-Kellerman says it’s mainly because “white folks are being drawn back into the city.” He says it has come at a cost, mostly borne by poor and black people in Detroit. Wylie-Kellerman says undemocratic actions such as appointing an emergency manager for the city have contributed to the problem. He says making Democracy has to happen from the bottom up.