Bessie Johnson was my mom. I was a toddler when she and my dad separated. My mom actually left my dad twice for being abusive. The second time she went to be with her mother, Irma Lee Gill. I never saw my mother again after she left the second time, and I never met my grandmother. They were living in California when they became involved in Peoples Temple. They both died in Jonestown along with my two half-sisters, Carma Lisa and Maisha Danika Johnson.
My mom was a homemaker. The vague memory I have of her is that she was as always at home.I was a momma’s boy and I have been told I have my mother’s ways. Although I do not remember much about her, I know that she had a heart of gold, and that I look just like her, because people who knew my mother have told me as much.
She never lived to see the day, but I was the first generation in my immediate family to graduate from college and my daughter was the second.
I also know my mother lives through me. I know she is gracious, loving, and kind. As long as I live, I will never forget my mom. I think about her every day.
(Ray Johnson was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1985 he graduated from University of Missouri at Columbia, Missouri as a Bachelor of Journalism. He has worked as a civil rights investigator for the City of Kansas City and was promoted to the position of the City’s EEO/Diversity Coordinator. Ray Johnson currently does diversity consulting in Atlanta, Georgia. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)