IntroductionJim Jones spent 25 years building a community based on the principles of equality for all. No racism, sexism or agism. On November 18, 1978, 918 people died in a mass suicide/murder from the ingestion of cyanide poisoned kool-aid, or from gunshot wounds. Over a third of these victims were children, who were given the punch by their parents who then drank it themselves. Anyone who refused to drink the punch was shot. All were people who had dedicated their lives to the People’s Temple, run by Jim Jones. Through the use of charismatic preaching, emphasizing his anti-racial views and creating an all-inclusive atmosphere Jones was able to gain followers and expand his organization to reach new people.While the People’s Temple started as a group that acted as a community for those tired of the racism and hate in the United States, it progressed over the years to become a dangerous, cult like group that would later be compared to a concentration camp. In the early years, however, Jones was seen as one of the forefront civil rights leader, and even received awards for his work. He not only preached the importance of inclusion, but also showed that he meant what he said through his actions in the early years of his organization. Looking at the Similar growth spectrum, beliefs and time of origin of The People’s Temple and The African-American Civil Rights Movement shows how the awareness of the issues Jones was discussing was created by the movement happening in the States. Without this awareness, the growth of his Temple may not have been possible. This raises the question, To what extent was the African-American Civil Rights Movement a Catalyst that led to the Growth of The People’s Temple between 1954-1968?The African-American Civil Rights MovementThe African-American Civil Rights Movement took place between the years 1954-1968, and was a period of protest against treatment of African American United Citizens of the United States. These protests were non-violent, and featured citizens of Black and White race fighting for equal treatment of races in the States, something that was long overdue. The king Years, written by Taylor Branch is a valuable source for this information on the Civil Rights Movement as it presents detail and essential moments of the Civil Rights movements of Civil Rights history. Taylor Branch also won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing, and has written several other books on the topic of the African-american Civil Rights Movement, proving this book was written by someone who is very knowledgeable of the subject. His analysis and narrative of the events that occured come from a huge array of sources and historians, and include some of the most important events that took place during the movement. The Civil Rights Act of 1866, declared that anyone born in the United States, regardless of race, color, or past experiences an American citizen. However, discrimination by the form on racial segregation in schools, public washrooms, and overall treatment by society was one of the predominant issues in the States in the 1950’s, and the African-American Civil Rights Movement sought to take care of that. In fact, there was no social or political movement during the 20th century that had as much of a legal effect as this movement did. People who were discriminated against were in search of equality, as they were not being treated humanely by many. The importance of the racial division in society was enforced by individuals blinded by ignorance and most importantly out of fear of losing power. White people had developed a warped sense of success by creating a racial class system with themselves at the top. The result of hundreds of years of this oppression of other races was severe inequality, and the social normality of believing one skin color, age, or gender was superior to the other. The African-American Civil Rights Movement was the act needed to expand people’s knowledge of equality and to help diminish their ignorance, as ignorance is caused by ill informed information and obliviousness. The fundamentals of the People’s Temple conformed to many of the ideas brought forward by the movement, in turn making it very desirable to those who were involved between 1954-1968.The 13th, 14th and 15th AmendmentsThe Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished slavery. It continues to prohibit slavery to this day. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution declared that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens including African Americans. The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s race, color, or previous condition of servitude. These amendments were taken from their original documents from when they were written almost 150 years ago. The value in these primary records is clear, showing the exact words that those who had been held down by slavery were freed from. Using the original documents eliminates possible bias or opinions from secondary investigators when analyzing. These amendments, created all in the span of 1865 to 1870 were the basis of the civil rights movement. Fighting to improve the enforcement of these Amendments and people to understand the reasons they were put into place was one of the goals of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Although it states in the 14th Amendment that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens, white supremacists would try to prevent people of color from embracing their citizenship as they believed only white people could truly be American. The color of one’s skin does not discredit their citizenship, and the people leading the movement were committed to spread that message.History of the African-American practice of Christianity The beginning of Christianity in the African-American culture stemmed from slavery. Almost all African religious, cultural, and traditional ties were severed when Africans were brought to America. There were a variety of religions brought to the United States, most prominently Islam, which was most popular in west Africa. However very few slaves who were brought to America were practicing forms of Christianity, as it was not a popular religion in Africa at that point in time. Christianity had begun to show presence in the eighteenth century in America, and became popular once it began to be practiced among American citizens, and quickly spread. The same went for those who came from Africa. While most of what these people brought with them from Africa, such as their ethnic traditions, languages and most ways of life were destroyed, their religious beliefs and ways proved to be strong and able to adapt to the change that had occurred. These beliefs were integrated into the way they practiced the religion that was available to them, which was Christianity. It did, however, prove difficult with the high death rates and difficult circumstances. After the civil rights movement, birth rate began to increase, naturally. This also contributed to the rise in Christians and the African- American teachings as well. This meant that traditions now we’re starting to truly form as “African-American”, as more generations began to practice . The time after the reconstruction period in the United States, which included the 13th amendment in 1866, showed the end of all slave trade and ownership and a period of religious revivalism. This featured many African Americans in the southern states transitioning to Baptist and Methodist faiths. This was largely due to the new teaching of Christianity, which consisted of the idea that “all Christians were equal in the sight of God”, which provided hope to the African-American population. At this time there was still a massive inequality between the White and African-American population, which meant they did not practice their religious faiths together. This led to the infusion of African culture into the new ways of Christianity, and started the unique religion that liberated this population of people from slavery. In the period post-civil war, African American churches became one of the only places that the population could find refuge and feel safe, and with that came the establishment of “Black Churches”, a place for the African American population to speak freely about the problems that concerned them, and practice their religion on their own terms. This involved cultural practices, like song and dance. These segregated churches became especially prevalent in the southern states, because of the larger divide between the two populations. This strict religious separation started the distinct difference in African-American practice and White practice of Christianity. The history of religion that was practiced hundreds of years ago in the States and even earlier in Africa would later become an important issue in the Civil Rights Movement.The Establishment of The People’s TempleIt was just before these events, in 1954, when Jim Jones started his own religious organization which he initially named “Community Unity”. Inclusion through religion was the way in which Jones hoped to unite people, and it was a platform for which he quickly gained respect. However, Jones started his organization in Indiana, which is historically known as one of the most overtly racist States. The Ku Klux Klan, famously known for their white supremacist views, had previously involved many Indiana residents. This meant that although the organization was not active in the 1950’s, there were still many people who had upbringings in very racist families and therefore did not respect or acknowledge Community Unity as a legitimate organization. This made it difficult for the organization to grow quickly, but it did grow. With the protests and anger people were feeling, action was inevitable. It was clearly significant that The Peoples Temple started when it did, serving as a church that symbolized the very reason people were speaking out. Both the Civil Rights Movement and the Peoples Temple starting in 1954 was significant, as one fueled the other. It is important to note that both these events were not sudden, and the build up to them was long, especially the Civil Rights Movement. Struggles to gain human rights, pertaining to the treatment of them, had been an issue since the liberation of slaves almost one hundred years prior. One of the most significant events in 1954 was the Brown v. Board of education, which ruled that separating children on the basis of race was unconstitutional. The publicity from this case was large, but it did not happen overnight. The ruling came in 1954, but it had been under consideration for a few years. As Inclusion was the main theme of The Peoples Temple, rulings such as this one supported Jones claim for change and involvement by everyone.The fact that The Peoples Temple originated in Indiana was an important reason for its growth alongside the Civil Rights Movement. The idea of Inclusion of everyone who supported the cause of equality, regardless of race, gender or age was what The Peoples Temple thrived on. This juxtaposed the major theme of segregation that was present in so many places and situations throughout the country. The organization stood as a beacon of hope for those trying to make a difference in the laws and social appreciation of the underrepresented members of US Society. Leaders such as Martin Luther King made social change that show their effects to this day. However, at the time of the Civil Rights Movement, actions made by these leaders moved slowly. Nevertheless, People like Rosa Parks persisted with their cause, and made important social statements to advance their cause. The Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 started with Parks refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man. These types of statements were representative of what the movement was really about; hopes of raising awareness and change for these important issues. These stances that were taken by these activists also put the laws that were in place at the time into perspective. Although on paper equality looked like it could soon be possible, societal norms and demanded etiquette ruled otherwise. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendment had abolished slavery, appointed citizenship, and given the right to vote to those of African heritage. However it was these expectations, such as those present in Rosa Parks experience, which were in need of fixing. The expectation of negative and abusive treatment had become so normal, and standing up to these expectations was what made this part of history so vital. It was due to activists that also made people realize how much they did deserve. Settling for the basic right to not be treated as a slave was no longer acceptable, and it was now about demanding respect. As Indiana had a population which was overtly racist, the Peoples Temple got a lot of recognition for its progressive movements, but not generally in good ways. This change was happening in a state which had been used to organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, and accepting ideals such as Jones’ did not come naturally to them. Therefore the beliefs found in the Civil Rights Movement were the same as the ones In The People’s Temple. Equality for all was the message being preached, and it the point of the movement was to make it so that treatment of every citizen went further than what laws stated. The similar growth spectrum that The People’s Temple and The Civil Rights Movement shared was important for both Movements. Organizations such as Jones’ was the idea being preached in the Civil Rights Movement, and events that progressed the Civil Rights Movement generally had to do with raising awareness and support for the issues they were fighting for. In 1961, Jim Jones was appointed to the Indianapolis Human Rights Commission. He was appointed by the Mayor himself, as he was said to fulfill the characteristics necessary for the job . This was clearly a significant step for the Peoples Temple, legitimizing their leader and placing him into a very progressive role. Recognizing people who were making these changes was a significant part of the Movement, placing people in leadership with the same views on racial and social equality in high power positions, habilitating them to make even more change. The March on Washington In 1963, Martin Luther said “We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning, when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.”. This message by one of the major faces of was an accurate statement describing the nature of the practice of religion in the United States in the early 60’s. It was later in that same year when King delivered one of the most famous speeches of all time, the iconic “I have a dream” speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This was one of the landmark days in the Civil Rights Movement, and even in the history of African-American Rights. His speech shared that he had a dream of all Americans joining together to realize the founding ideals of equality. His speech was remembered as a progressive symbol of the March. However, the March on Washington symbolized much more than just that speech. It was about educating those who were unaware of the issues and uniting them to fight against these issues together. It was time for more action and according to Arnold Hedgeman nad Reverend Thomas Kilgore, ” a March on Washington might as well be a way of giving young people a new picture of their leadership and a new sense of their dignity”. As more than 200000 people joined together, both black and white to protest inequality and and fight for jobs, a sense of unity was created. Unity between the people was the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. had spoken about, and this very march was an example of it.Move of The People’s Temple to CaliforniaJones moved his church to California in 1965 in order to expand and adopt more followers than he had in Indiana. It was in this same year that The Voting Rights Act was passed, outlawing the practices used in the Southern states to disenfranchise African American voters. Congress passed this act in order to enable approximately 3 million previously excluded minority voters their civil right to vote. A second act in 1965 removed the system which had stopped most legal immigration applicants of many countries and races throughout the world, which had previously confined the eligible applicants to the white population of countries in Northern Europe. Most of his Indiana members, however, followed him to California, which shows the dedication that most members began to adopt after being part of the Peoples Temple. The Church originally moved to Ukiah, California, but quickly moved to Redwood Valley due to their increase in size. Their move allowed Jones to isolate his members and find his true vision for what he wanted the Peoples Temple to look like and function as. This was particularly true for the members who followed him from Indiana, as they moved there for the church. This showed the dedication they had to Jones and how much they valued their religious educations being furthered by him, considering they uprooted their entire lives to move across the country. It was also apparent that the population makeup was very different in California then it was in Indiana. Indiana had so many overtly racist people who generally did not appreciate racial equality, and therefore only a small number of his members went with Jones. While only 140 people travelled with Jones to California, the number of members he had grew dramatically within only a few months. The Californian population had a reputation for being Hippies, as the Hippie cultural movement had begun in California not long before the People’s Temple moved there. The Civil Rights Movement had played a role in the growth of the Hippie Movement as well, preaching the nonviolent ways and the hopes of rejecting older generations hate and misconduct. This nonviolent atmosphere in California led to a more accepting population, which worked in Jones favour. While just a small amount of Californians were actually participants in the Hippie Movement, the environment that was created opened up the possibility for ideas of change. Many African-Americans had also become angry with their religious history, most of which was given to them by America. This was due to their frustrations with the American population themselves, being treated so poorly after adopting so much of their culture. It had also emerged that many people were unhappy with the way religion in the States was treating them. They felt it was not serving them in the ways it should, considering that they were using the Christian religion system which was given to them to practice during the times of slavery. In 1964, Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammed Ali in order to satisfy his True African Islamic culture rather than one which had just been forced on to his ancestors. He even called his Christian name his “slave name”, signifying his disgust with American history. This statement was an important Civil Rights Movement moment, as it was well covered and publicized in the media due to Ali’s high status. Ali, specifically, expressed his concerns with the systems in place in the country, which allowed African-Americans to now fight in the military, yet get no recognition or reward for their brave actions. Ali was not the only person who was showing their frustration with conventional American religious systems. It was therefore also around this time when new religious organizations were presenting themselves, starting in California as well. These religions included the practice of Scientology, and the practice under the Unification Organization. Both presented similar messages and values of equality related to The People’s Temple, and also represented refuge from the American religious systems that were causing frustrations. The effect that the People’s Temple was having had started to show, influencing and encouraging the growth of similar organizations. The quote “In California, he shed Midwestern convention and embraced the Golden State’s emphasis on sensation.”(Scheeres) symbolized how Jones appreciated -or took advantage of- the larger, less racist population who had less conventional beliefs. This new audience also opened up a lot of doors for Jim to say things and make new rules that may not have fit into a more conservative Indiana. He began to make more and more bold decisions, which began to define the Peoples Temple and Jones himself. This went along with the new Californian atmosphere, and showed how Jones organization had become more independent. ConclusionThe period of time between 1954 and 1968 was clearly a time of growth and change in the United States.The African-American Civil Rights Movement and the Growth of The People’s Temple had a clear and similar growth Spectrum. It was with this Movement that allowed for the topic of racial equality to be one that was present in the media. The Civil Rights Movement had been progressing for almost one hundred years, since the end of the Civil War, but had not become an official movement until 1954. Consisting of several nonviolent mass protests against racial segregation and discrimination. The People’s Temple shared similar ideals, with the spread of a message that mainly focused on Christianity and racial equality with aspects of social politics. With the beginning of both of these progressive events happening in the same year, it was inevitable that The growth of the Civil Rights Movement would also influence the growth of The People’s Temple. With the majority of the growth and awareness about the People’s Temple happening in the late sixties after its move to California, it was significant that the Civil Rights Movement had ended just 3 years after their move. Although the Movement had officially ended, progress and awareness was still happening. The Civil Rights Movement was a rewarding but taxing experience for the population, taking up huge parts of people’s lives and becoming a part of who they were. As well, The Peoples Temple had already grown so much and formed into such a huge organization that was now self-functional and continued to grow, even without the Civil Rights Movement happening at the same time. Just because the awareness that came with with this movement was not the same, it did not mean that this movement would ever be forgotten, or be built on every day in hopes of creating better lives for all who were faced with the difficulties of oppression based off their race. The African-American Civil Rights Movement had created the oppourtunity for Jim Jones to create his organization, and played had a huge responsibility for its growth and formation in the Temple’s first 14 years. Without the Movement growing alongside it, The People’s Temple may have never grown to its size or had the power that it did.