[Editor’s notes: The transcript of this document retains its original spellings, with corrections noted only where necessary for clarity.]
Report of November 5, 1978 Conference at American Russian Institute
November 6, 1978
FROM: Vera Young
On November 5, 1978, a group of us went to a conference at the Jack Tar Hotel sponsored by the American Russian Institute/Holland Roberts Center[.] Jean Brown, Andy [Silver] and myself approached the Consul General, Alex I. Zinchunk, Jean Brown delivered to Mr. Zinchunk your message as instructed. Zinchunk have received considerable information about Peoples Temple and his comments were, “I understand that your group has been quite active”. The more Jean spoke the more he nodded and stated, yes, I know, I know. It seems that Davidow and Bransford or whomever, has been doing a lot of talking about P.T. Davidow mentioned to me that it won’t be long now before some of [us] from P.T. will be going to the U.S.S.R.
On the morning of 11/5, Hue Fortson was a featured speaker in Oakland at this humanist fellow church. Hue took [blank space] slideOn the morning of 11/5, Hue Fortson was a featured speaker in Oakland at this humanist fellow church. Hue took [blank space] slides.s. The members of this church are affiliated with the Holland Roberts Institute, through Andy, P.T. was invited to this church to explain to the membership what P.T. was all about, both here and in Guyana. There was some question and answers just because the slides took up so much of the time, the questions were minimal. However, one man approached Hue and inquired about the [blank space] relationship between Jonestown, [Guyana Prime Minister Forbes] Burnham, Chagen [Guyana opposition leader Cheddi Jagan]. He went on to say that he spent some time in Guyana mining Documents but ran out of money so he returned to the U.S. By in large through [though], I think the impression that was left with the small group was positive. One lady asked about the monetary system in Jonestown. Hue explained that folks had money but there was no [blank space] monetary exchange necessary due to the collective lifestyle. She talked about slave labor camps. I do think though, that the slides told the complete story about Jonestown.
According to the minister of this church the congregation was a mixture of old leftists, union members, socialists and communists. He considered himself a communist. He wanted to know where our affiliation was with Glide [Methodist Church], and it seems like I here [hear] that question a lot. I told him none. He then elaborated about [Glide minister] Cecil Williams which was quite unfavorable.
On Thursday, November 9, 1978 a group of us will go to Sproul Hall to hear Angela Davis speak.
Last Friday, Oct. 31, 1978, Hue, Guy [Young], Andy and myself went to a fundraiser for Yvonne Burke, who is running for Atty. General of California. Yvonne did not show nor did [Lt. Gov. Mervyn] Dymally, but Andrew Young did show. We talked with him twice. Once was very brief, too many folks around. On the second attempt, Hue asked for his autograph while I talked in his ear. I told him about the project and the reputation it is receiving from visitors around the world and that as UN ambassador he should see the project for himself. He promised that whenever he was in the caribbean, specifically Guyana, he would drop in on the project. He said he would like to see it.
Andrew Young’s speech was somber, dismal and an attack on the black middle class. He talked about the systematic oppression of minorities and the systematic exclusion of minorities from the mainstream of economic, political life. He spoke about conservatism and the move towards racism as oppose[d] to one world government.
While I was speaking to Andrew Young, a woman overheard my comments about Jonestown, and later asked to speak with us about the project. It seems as though this woman had been to Guyana and was familiar with the land lease program of Prime Minister Burnham. She spoke of a group who presently reside in the bush, originally from the U.S., who received mail from sourounding villagers and citizens of Georgetown who want to know what is happening in Jonestown.
According to this women [woman], who’s [whose] name I will have to forward later, she has been sending copies of articles clipped from papers here in America. We invited her to the church to see the slides. She was eager to come, she did say that she wasn’t guaranteeing that she wouldn’t be convinced by what we had to say to her.
Justice Clinton White. I had previously met Clinton White at a correctional seminar and he was friendly. He said he knew little about P.T. other than what he had been told by Billy Hunter and read in the newspaper. He did say that he had heard that J.J. was a very good man. We ran into Justice White on 10/31 approx. 2/3 weeks after the first encounter and he had been approached by [Tim] Stoen. He brought up the child situation, we explained the child situation. He seemed reluctant to listen but he listened.
We told him about Stoen’s activities in Germany and his conduct as an atty. representing clients against the church to which he was once atty. Justice White was defensive of Stoen’s behavior in Germany and summarized such activity as something he would have done in his youth. He said he would talk with [Carlton] Goodlett and Gary [Charles Garry], but wouldn’t promise to read the literature.
The NAACP Board elections are coming up. Am I to stay on the Board??
On Friday, November 10, 1978, we will sell food at an Oakland International Festival at the Oakland Auditorium. Erika [Ericka] Huggins of the Oakland Community School won’t be using her booth on Friday, so she has agreed to let us sell food at their booth for one day. We’ll take chicken and potatoe pies. This will be an ethnic festival. Hopefully, we’ll work something out and stay all three days.
On 10/31 a [blank space] group of our children went to Holland Roberts for a halloween party. One many [man] who had been totally negative re: P.T. was very impressed with David, one of Jessimere Harris’ grandsons to the point that his opinion of JJ changed as a result of David’s good manners and maturity.
I called Dymally’s office in Sac. from work, to obtain present information for S.F. and this area is doing literally nothing in support of the Lt. Gov. I mentioned that I was from P.T. and the response I received was that the Sac. office was very impressed with the amount of support P.T. has given the Lt. Gov. throughout the year.
On Thurs evening [underlined blank space] Perry will be at the Temple for dinner. I understand from Andy’s report, See Attached, that he has been cleared to visit Jonestown. A report will follow his visit.
P.S. enclosed is a letter to you from Walter L. Scott, II, Deputy Executive Director, SFHA [San Francisco Housing Authority].
From: Andy • Re: Nelson Peery • Nov 1
He plans to arrive in Georgetown Nov 29th and stay through December 5th.
His contact person is C.Y. Thomas at the Department of Economics at the Univ of Guyana, in Georgetown.
Please advise us as to whether he can visit Jonestown, which he is asking to do.
- He is Black, 55 or 60 years old. His wife is white and the manager of the Tom Mooney Book Store in S.F.
- His son goes to Opportunity HS and he served on the Parents Council with me last year.
- He is the general secretary for the Communist Labor Party, he said.
- He has just returned from Ethiopia where he made a slideshow which she wants to show at Peoples Temple, as he has shown it elsewhere in the Bay Area (e.g. Mission Cultural Center, etc.). I propose to have him over to the Temple to see this slideshow and all of us get a feel for where he is coming from, his background in the left, etc.
- I ran into him when Maxxine [Maxine Betts] and I attended a Proposition V (Jobs for Peace initiative/ Cut the Military Budget) fundraiser this week. [2 words crossed out] I turned around, saw him and said hi, to which he told me he was going to Georgetown this month. The Communist Labor Party has been a strong backer of Prop V.
- He said his tour (Nov 11 – Dec 8th) would include Jamaica, Tobago, Trinidad, and other islands/ small countries in the Caribbean.
- He said that when he was in Ethiopia, he met David McDavid who is a high official of the Peoples National Congress of Guyana. McDavid told Nelson Peery that PT was a group of hard-working and honest people. Peery said he praised PT from [what] he knew of our activities in the USA to McDavid.
Is the head of the Army married? We might send someone his way that he would care about – like Karen or someone black if he likes black people. Only thing I can think of is that might work @ time.
I would always, be careful, also, as he could be speaking with a forked tongue. Again, he may be looking for true socialism & has seen the hope you have provided. I have only the most [illegible word] thoughts of Georgetown.
The people were very disorganized & all for self there – except the one commune that Patty Cartmell & I had the priviledge [privilege] visiting. The nice lady
there gave us bread with peanut butter & milk (boiled) & the men gave us many coconuts.
The Russian Embassy is very interesting also. I think the fact they asked to come to visit here exemplifies not only curiosity possibly but interest beyond mere curiosity. After all, all the Russian people have ever seen is imperialistic Americans. We must find out the way Russians think & react to all things. I think 1st impressions are lasting impressions & it is very necessary to create anything, but imperialism in their minds.
One point with all this talk of fighting is that the USSR has not been in an armed conflict for 33 years – except for a four day police action in Hungary. That really shows who is for peace.