The Jonestown Massacre
Civil Rights/Black Power
Prof. Raquel M. Bennett
December 19, 2012
The Peoples Temple which was founded by Jim Jones, was a racially integrated church that focused on helping people in need. Jones originally established the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana, but then moved it to Redwood Valley, California in 1966. Jones had a vision of a communist community, one in which everyone lived together in harmony and worked for the common good. He was able to establish this in a small way while in California but he dreamed of establishing a compound outside of the United States. This compound would be fully under his control, allow Peoples Temple members to help others in the area, and be far away from any influence of the United States government. Jones found a remote location in the South American country of Guyana that fit his needs. In 1973, he leased some land the Guyanese government and had workers begin clearing it of jungle. Since all building supplies needed to be shipped in to the Jonestown Agricultural Settlement, construction of the site was slow. In early 1977, there were only about 50 people living in the compound and Jones was still in the U.S.. That all changed when Jones received word that an exposé was about to be printed about him. The article included interviews with ex-members. The night before the article was to be printed, Jim Jones and several hundred Peoples Temple members flew to Guyana and moved into the Jonestown compound. Jonestown was meant to be a utopia. However, when members arrived at Jonestown, things were not as they expected. Since there weren't enough cabins built to house people, each cabin was filled with bunk beds and overcrowded. The cabins were also segregated by gender, so married couples were forced to live apart. The heat and humidity in Jonestown was stifling and caused a number of members to get sick. Members were also required to work long work days in the heat, often up...
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