In the lazy days of summer let’s take a leisurely look at the masterful art of influence and persuasion. The power of persuasion and influencing people it an ancient art that can take on many forms. It can be in the form of a speech, getting that raise you want, getting more resources or the implementation of an idea or suggestion.
Part One – Speeches
One of the most influential speeches I have ever read was that of Sojourner Truth. Sojourner Truth was a slave in 1851 and spoke at the Women’s Rights convention in Akron, Ohio. She had a very tough audience. There were several men who spoke of the superior intellect of men and many of the women in the audience did not want her to speak fearing the women’s movement would be adversely affected by the abolishment movement. Truth would not be silenced and gave the rousing, “Ain’t I a Woman” speech.
Take a look:
“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ar’n’t I a woman?
Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ar’n’t I a woman?
I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?
I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again!
And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”
Stay tuned next week for Pamela’s evaluation of this speech and the persuasion it generates.