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Jonestown Survivor to Speak at ATU

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (News release) - Laura Johnston Kohl will offer a lecture entitled “Don’t Drink the Kool Aid: Advice from a Jonestown Survivor” at Arkansas Tech University on Thursday, April 5. 

The presentation will take place in room 300 of the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center, 305 West Q Street in Russellville.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the lecture scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Kohl will sign copies of her 2010 work “Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look” following the lecture. 

Admission will be free and open to the public. The event is hosted by the ATU Department of Behavioral Sciences, the ATU Department of History and Political Science and the ATU College of Arts and Humanities. 

Kohl was one of 87 members of the Peoples Temple who survived the Jonestown massacre in Guyana on Nov. 18, 1978. A total of 918 individuals perished in what was the single largest loss of American civilian life by a deliberate act until Sept. 11, 2001. 

“I was a member of Peoples Temple for seven years in California before moving to Guyana,” writes Kohl in her bio. “I lived in Georgetown and Jonestown, Guyana, for another nearly two years. I happened to be in Georgetown with about 80 other survivors when my wonderful friends and adopted family were murdered in Jonestown. It took me 20 years to accept my survival and rebuild my life.”

Now a bilingual middle school teacher in California, Kohl’s speaking engagements focus on such topics as surviving tragedy, survivors’ guilt, sociology, political science, psychology and the red flags associated with cult dynamics. 

For more information about Kohl’s appearance at Arkansas Tech, contact Dr. Joshua Lockyer, associate professor of anthropology, at jlockyer@atu.edu. 


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