It’s been 40 years since The Jonestown Massacre took the lives of 909 men, women, and children in the isolated jungle of north Guyana. Now, Tracy Parks, a survivor of Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple evil reign is sharing her story. Be warned: Her experience with mass suicide is graphic in nature and may be upsetting to some readers.
As a 12-year-old girl living among an oppressive cult, Tracy wasn’t fully aware of how dangerous leader Jim Jones and his teachings truly were. In fact, none of the members were. Jones was said to have been a very charismatic man, who captivated audiences with his powerful speeches about civil rights and racial equality. “This man was portraying himself to be a healer and have higher power. [He was] acting like he was God,” Tracy recalled in an interview with People.
It was only after Jim began to preach mass suicide that she realized the gravity and true horror of the situation. “Oh my God, I’m going to die in this place,” she remembered thinking. Tracy’s father also began to live in fear. So much so, that he tried to leave Jonestown, only to be punished by Jim Jones. “I sat there and watched as my dad was beaten for saying he wanted to go home,” Tracy explained.
Tracy and her dad today.
She says that people blindly followed Jim because he kept them so exhausted that they "couldn't know what they wanted to do in their own heads." Her father revealed that Jim gave many, many speeches explaining that suicide was the only option for the group, and those that refused to do it when he finally made the call, were murdered.
Luckily, just before members were expected to drink kool-aid laced with cyanide, Tracy’s father led them to safety where they spent days in the jungle hiding out "with no water and no food." "I still to this day don't know how they made it," said her dad, "it's a miracle." Even as a survivor, Tracy still struggles deeply with her Jonestown experiences. “Time does not heal all wounds,” she expressed. “I think about it every day.” Thankfully, Tracy is still around to spread awareness of cults and the horrifying damage they can cause.