Black History Month 2024

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Jonestown Massacre



Barima-Waini (Jonestown), Guyana - (909 dead) Jonestown was a camp for the religious cult-leader, Jim Jones. His cult was known as the Peoples Temple. It began in 1956, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Jones preyed on Black Americans. He focused on Black American women. He was a known womanizer. Jones regularly slept with female members. While the Temple was mostly Black American, the leadership was almost all white. Local whites were upset that the Temple had Black American members. Jones made plans to move the Temple.

In 1966, Jones left Indiana for California. First he went to Redwood Valley. Later, he went to San Francisco. There, Jones became well-known in politics. Yet, there were those who felt he abused his followers. It convinced Jones to leave the country.

In 1974, Jones decided on Guyana. He leased land (3,800 acres) from the Guyana government. The land was in the middle of the jungle. Over time, Jones moved hundreds of his followers to the area. He had a compound built, and called it Jonestown.

On Tuesday, November 14th, Congressman Leo Ryan, Jr. came to Jonestown. He heard reports of abuse and that members were forced to stay. Ryan went with a group that included journalists and aides. They toured the camp and talked to people in Jonestown.

On Saturday, November 18th, at 4:45 p.m. Ryan's group were to leave, from the Kaituma airstrip. It was the first part of their trip back to the United States. As they waited for their flight, Jones followers opened fire.

Ryan, three (3) journalists, and one (1) former Jones member were killed. Ryan was shot twenty (20) times. He was on the runway, to board the plane, to leave. He was the only person, in Congress, to die in the line-of-duty.

Later, that same day, Jones told his followers to drink poisoned (cyanide) Kool-AId. This is where 'drinking the Kool-Aid' started.

Most did not drink the poison, as told by survivors. Many were shot to death by Jones' bodyguards. Others, were intentionally injected with poison. Others were forced at gunpoint. Hundreds of men, women, and children were mass-murdered, on the word of Jim Jones.

The Jonestown Massacre was the largest peacetime loss of American non-military life in United States history, until 9/11. Jim Jones did not escape Jonestown. He was killed, the same night. It was a single gunshot to his head. It was never proved if it was suicide, or murder.

Some suspect Jones was a CIA asset. His death was on orders from the CIA. The reason was the end of the Jonestown project.


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