The term "don't drink the Kool-Aid" has become part of common vernacular, but it has its roots in a very real crime. In the 1978 Jonestown massacre, more than 900 Americans drank a poisonous cocktail—not actual Kool-Aid—laced with deadly cyanide. It was the biggest mass murder-suicide in modern history and was masterminded by Jim Jones, the leader of the Peoples Temple.
When the Peoples Temple was first created in 1956 in Indiana, Jones said it stood for: "Divine principles. Total equality. A society where people own all things in common, where there is no rich or poor, where there are no races."

Nine years later, Jones moved his wife and seven children—which they called their "rainbow family" because they included an African-American, Korean-Americans and a Caucasian biological son—to California. The Peoples Temple also moved and grew into an organization of thousands.

Jones convinced members to sell their homes and sign over their paychecks and life savings to the movement. He claimed he could miraculously heal the sick. But he was also coming under government and media scrutiny for rumors of sexual and physical abuse, so in 1977, Jones moved the Peoples Temple to Guyana, where his team had built their own utopia: Jonestown.


Next Story