The Big Cigar and the bullshistory of the Black Panthers

In late 1977, in the days before he suborned mass suicide in a Guyanese jungle, the Rev. Jim Jones tried to buoy the sagging spirits of his 900-plus homesick parishioners with a series of celebrity guest appearances, patched into the Jonestown encampment through a dodgy phone connection and an even dodgier PA system. Before migrating to South America — Jonestown was supposed to be a way station on route to the Soviet promised land — Jones operated the People’s Temple church out of San Francisco, where he accumulated political influence with terrifying ease and charmed local progressive stars like future Mayor Willie Brown, Angela Davis, and, from a remove of mutual admiration, Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton. “I want the
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