By Steven N. Larkin
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 276 children, 40 of them infants.
It is never too late in life or in the day to correct a right or a wrong for justice. The mass grave where many of the innocent victims are buried right now has a plaque with the name “Jim Jones.”
It is our understanding that this was done by members of the Jones family. We join Dr. Jynona Norwood and the staff of the Jonestown Memorial Wall project, in calling for the name of Jim Jones to immediately be removed from the gravesite! It is beyond sad, mean, and downright disrespectful for his name to be anywhere near those innocent victims of deceit.
On Saturday, November 18, 2023, the family of those survivors, led by Dr. Norwood will hold an anniversary ceremony at Evergreen Cemetery, 6459 Camden St. Oakland, CA at 11:00 am.
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?
We reached out to Congresswoman Barbara Lee and she said “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.”
She continued, “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 injustices 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’s 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, set up temporary tents to pay utility bills, and bring loads of money to pay rent for the needy.”
However, according to Rev. Brown, that was a planned strategy to build his own cult.
Dr. Brown continued, “There is good religion and bad religion. Jones was a man full of bad religion. One must always be mindful of bad and be able to recognize the trickery of bad religion.
When Jones reached out to become a member 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. Brown, Rev. George Newkirt, Rev. Hannibal Williams and Deacon Anthony Wagner agreed to meet with Jones at Dr. Carlton Goodlett’s office. Dr. Goodlett was a well-known fierce warrior for social justice and former President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).
In walks Jones with his team of bodyguards brash, bold and full of determination to plead his offerings to become a member. After a fierce discussion and debate, Jones was not allowed to become a member of the Black Leadership Forum. It was only after that historical meeting that Jones set his sights on moving out of America, to a place where he had no one of authority to see or control his methods of destroying so many innocent people.
We all know the painful results of what 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! News accounts have verified that Jones surrounded the innocent souls with armed gunmen and systematically murdered everyone in sight.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “In the End, We will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
So 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 whose lives were senselessly lost.
You can reach out to the Jonestown Memorial Wall staff: PO Box 3330 • Hollywood , CA. 90078 • www.JonestownOfficialMemorial.org