We Will Never Forget

45th Anniversary of the Tragedy of Jonestown


We Will Never Forget

45th Anniversary of the Tragedy of Jonestown

By Steven N. Larkin, Special to the NNPA

On November 18, 1978, an inexplicable act of evil occurred in the remote Jungles of Guyana, South America resulting in the deaths of 913 people including over 300 children, 40 of them infants.

It is never too late in life or in the day to correct a right for a wrong, in the spirit of justice. The mass grave where many of the innocent victims are buried right now, has a plaque with the name James Warren Jones aka Jim Jones. It is our understanding that this was done by members of People’s Temple and the Jones family. We join Dr. Norwood the staff of the Jonestown Memorial Wall project to call for the name of Jim Jones and the killers to immediately be removed from the gravesite! It is beyond sad, mean, and outright disrespectful for his name to be anywhere near these innocent victims of deceit.

We talked with several congressmen and public officials and a resounding statement was repeated over and over. Would a plaque of any kind be near or anywhere near the Holocaust Victims gravesite?

On Thursday November 18, 2023, the family of those survivors, led by Dr. Jynona Norwood will commemorate the annual anniversary ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery, 6459 Camden St. Oakland, CA at 11:00 am. Although Dr. Norwood never joined People’s Temple her grandmother was his first black member in San Francisco raising her son with her daughter, because she was a traveling, Evangelist. She abducted her son in a desperate effort to liberate him from Jim Jones and went into hiding. On that fatal day that the news media scrolled the names of the dead she sat with her grandmother, Julia Gales, and wrote down the names as she called out relatives amidst her tears counting up to 27 deceased family members. The family who were very close and estranged members of People’s Temple verified that 27 loved ones perished there including the youngest infant 2-months old Charles Garry Henderson.

We reached out to Congresswoman Barbera Lee: She shared “The Jonestown Massacre was a senseless, horrible tragedy, born of the evil of one man, that took the lives of nearly 1,000 innocent people – many African American and many from the Bay area. As a member of Congressman Ron Dellums staff, I handled many cases of family members who were concerned about their loved ones in Jonestown. I was invited to go to Jonestown with the late Congressman Leo Ryan and a member of his staff, my good friend former congresswoman Jackie Speier, but at the last minute had a family obligation that could not be missed. As we know now, Congresswoman Speier and several others were injured or killed on that day. The lives of those lost should be honored in our community to promote collective healing. May we never forget their lives and continue to fight all injustice to ensure anything like this tragedy never happens again.”

I also had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Amos Brown, Pastor Third Street Baptist Church in San Francisco recently to listen to his reflection of the time and the spirit of the Bay area community that Jim Jones was able to bamboozle. “You have to remember during that time there was a void in the Black Church in the area. Jones had systematically targeted the largest Black Churches and would always show up with a smile. Rev. Brown first view of Jones was simple. The man never would take off his shades! Something didn’t quite smell right. He would always offer help to the masses with food banks, temporary tents to pay utility bills, and loads of money to pay rent for the needy. However, according to Rev. Brown that was a planned strategy to build his own cult. As Dr. Brown continued, there is good religion and bad religion. Jones was a man full of bad religion. He went on to expound that religion comes from the latin word religo-ligaments or to tie fast, bond together etc. One must always be mindful of bad religion and being able to recognize the trickery of bad religion.

When Jones reached out to become a member of the of the Bay Area Black Leaders Forum, he believed that would allow him to have a free ticket to expand his planned exploitation of people of color. During that time Rev. Amos Brown, Rev. George Newkirt, Rev. Hannibal Willimas and Deacon Anthony Wagner met at Dr. Carlton Goodlett’s office Dr. Goodlett was a prominent, physician, Black Newspape publisher and former President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).  In walks Jones with his team of bodyguards brash and bold talking big stuff and thinking he was running a snow job on God fearing people! As Rev. Brown pointed out earlier in our talks that Jones before he was in the Bay area, was in Indianapolis, IA and was a card-carrying member of the Human Affairs Commission.  After a fierce discussion and debate, Jim Jones was not allowed to become a member of the Black Leadership Forum. He was only after that historical meeting; Jones realized his evil plan would not work in America.  He then sat his site on moving to a place where no one of authority to see or control his methods to destroy so many innocent people. He ended up in Guyana, South America free from any control. In spite of the massacre and tragic end of so many good souls. There may still be a But God Story!

You can look in the book of Hosea or Jermiah when this that and third was going on, when God allowed his people to be overtaken, killed or pushed into captivity. God is still God. Think to yourself when this, that and a third was going on in your life and for some reason, But God did some amazing things to keep you whole! Perhaps you went way down before He brought you back up. Just a thought.

We all know the painful results of what Jim Jones did to so many innocent people! Trust and believe they were not a bunch of crazies drinking poison to be with some so-called Messiah!

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “We will remember not the words of my enemies, but the silence of my friends.” We ask that you join Dr. Norwood and other relatives of the victims of Jonestown in their efforts to remove Jim Jones name from the gravesite and to build a fitting Memorial Wall to celebrate the innocence of senseless lives lost and God’s mighty spirit!

We love and respect God. We realize that God is in charge of everything! We give Him the praise and only ask for your consideration and prayers. Because deep on the inside, this may be another But God story.

You can reach out to the Jonestown Memorial Wall staff.

P O B ox 3330 • Hollywood , CA. 90078 • www.JonestownOfficialMemorial.org

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