Lessons Learned From Lucy Stone for Your Organization, Business, or Cause

Lucy Stone was born on her family’s farm in 1818 in rural West Brookfield, Massachusetts. Her father did not believe in female education, and discouraged her at every turn except when it came to marriage. Even so, Lucy earned her own money to attend the Mount Holyoke Female Academy and then Oberlin College, becoming the first woman in America to earn a college degree. She would go on to become an influential leader in both the women’s rights and anti-slavery movements, forever securing her place in history how to write a cause and effect essay.

Lucy Stone didn’t let her father’s low opinion of her stop her from pursuing an education. Luckily, she had other people in her life who believed in her, and she had faith in herself and in her Creator. She also had a sense of the work she would do in the world because of her exposure, in writing and in person, to other abolitionists and women’s rights advocates.

Her faith in herself guided her throughout her life. At college, despite the fact that women did not speak in public at the time, she studied oratory (public speaking) and formed a club to practice. She started publishing controversial essays as a college student. She took to the stage to speak up for women’s rights and against slavery. She kept her own name when she married. She started a national newspaper. She sided with Frederick Douglass over African American men’s right to vote, even though it meant splitting apart the women’s movement. Decision after decision, although oftentimes controversial, seemed to come almost with ease because of her faith in herself and clarity of purpose.

Educate yourself

Whatever it is that you doing in your cause, business, or organization, learn everything you can about it. Learn who the other players are, what’s been done in the past and what needs to be done, where you can plug in, and where you will be effective with your particular talents. Read books, find websites – you need to transform yourself into the expert on your subject. And this work is never done. You should always be learning and growing as you step up more and more into your work.

Lucy Stone never stopped studying, attending events, or discussing ideas with friends, colleagues, or influencers by letter or in person. She was a lifelong student of her two causes because so much was at stake.

Determine the right tactics

If you’re attempting to sway public opinion on something you care about (including attracting members or customers), you need to figure out who you need to reach, where those people are, and how to reach them. In the communications profession we would say: Audience, Message, Method. All three need to work in harmony for it to work.

In Lucy Stone’s case, she spoke at public events (her own or other people’s); met privately with people, including detractors; published and distributed pamphlets and the proceedings of women’s rights conventions; wrote newspaper articles; started her own newspaper; and prepared petitions to legislatures. She also showed up at other people’s events to make her presence known, thereby publicly endorsing other women’s rights advocates and abolitionists.

She also organized. While the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, the attendees were mostly local. Lucy Stone helped organize the first national women’s rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1850, where multiple train lines converged, overnight accommodations were available, the media would show up, and politicians would pay attention. She knew there was strength in numbers, and that a public showing of those numbers would attract others to the cause – and display their seriousness of purpose to opinion leaders and the public.

When the women’s movement split over the 14th Amendment in 1869, Lucy Stone’s group worked for woman suffrage state-by-state, and embraced working class members and issues as well as those from the middle class. The competing group, headed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, focused on a federal Constitutional amendment and its middle class membership. The state approach is what worked many years later.

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