Rep. Jackie Speier: Jonestown, Courage and Fighting Back
This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.
Jackie Speier was 28 when she joined congressman Leo Ryan’s delegation to rescue defectors from cult leader Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. Ryan was killed on the airstrip tarmac, and Speier was shot five times at point-blank range. While recovering from what would become one of the most harrowing tragedies in recent history, Speier had to choose: Would she become a victim or a fighter? The choice to survive against unfathomable odds empowered her with a resolve to become a vocal proponent for human rights.
From the formative nightmare that radically molded her perspective and instincts to the devastating personal and professional challenges that would follow, her memoir, Undaunted, reveals the perseverance of a determined force in American politics. Deeply rooted in Speier’s experiences as a widow, a mother, a congresswoman and a fighter, hers is a story of true resilience, one that will inspire other women to draw strength from adversity in order to do what is right—no matter the challenges ahead.
Speier photo by Steve Maller