Jonestown massacre survivor to hold lecture at ATU


A survivor of the Jonestown massacre will present a lecture on Thursday, April 5 entailing her experiences with the religious movement known as The Peoples Temple. Nine hundred and eighteen people died on the settlement from cyanide poisoning in 1978. What was originally thought to be a mass suicide pact is described by survivors as a horrifying mass murder.

Laura Johnston Kohl, who was one of the 87 members of the Peoples Temple that survived Jonestown, will present the lecture which is entitled, “Don’t Drink the Kool Aid: Advice from a Jonestown Survivor.” The lecture will take place in Room 300 of Ross Pendergraft Library at 6 p.m. Admission to the event will be free.

The event is being co-hosted by the Department of Behavioral Sciences, the Department of History and Political Science and the College of Arts and Humanities.

Dr. Joshua Lockyer, associate professor of anthropology, said in an email that he believes Johnston Kohl is a great person to speak on this topic.

“She’s a good speaker and I know she speaks a lot on the topic all around the country, so I wanted her to come speak with the students in my class,” Lockyer said. “I thought that the topic might be interesting enough that, if we were going to have her come all the way from California, it would be a good idea to invite her to do a public lecture for Arkansas Tech and the surrounding community.”

The lecture in an opportunity for students to learn more on this significant event in history. Alex Sharp, a history major from Charleston, says it is an ideal way for him to learn more about history. “It’s cool because as a history major, I am used to sitting in classrooms and hearing outside sources tell me about historical events,” Sharp said. “With this lecture, though, I can get firsthand information from someone who actually lived it. I am very excited to attend.”

After the lecture, Johnston Kohl will be signing copies of her 2010 book, “Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look.”