Whatever ability I may have as a public speaker Iowe in a measure to Miss Lord. When she foundout that I had some inclination in this direction,she gave me private lessons in the matter of breathing,emphasis, and articulation. Simply to be able totalk in public for the sake of talking has never hadthe least attraction for me. In fact, I consider thatthere is nothing so empty and unsatisfactory asmere abstract public speaking; but from my earlychildhood I have had a desire to do something tomake the world better and then to be able tospeak to the world about that thing.
The room was very large, and well suited to publicspeaking. When I entered the room, there werevigorous cheers from the coloured portion of theaudience, and faint cheers from some of the whitepeople. I had been told, while I had been inAtlanta, that while many white people were goingto be present to hear me speak, simply out ofcuriosity, and that others who would be presentwould be in full sympathy with me, there was Page 216a still larger element of the audience which wouldconsist of those who were going to be present forthe purpose of hearing me make a fool of myself,or, at least, of hearing me say some foolish thing,so that they could say to the officials who hadinvited me to speak, "I told you so!"
There is a great compensation, though, for this Page 243preliminary nervous suffering, that comes to meafter I have been speaking for about ten minutes,and have come to feel that I have really masteredmy audience, and that we have gotten into full andcomplete sympathy with each other. It seems to methat there is rarely such a combination of mental andphysical delight in any effort as that which comes toa public speaker when he feels that he has a greataudience completely within his control. There is athread of sympathy and oneness that connects a publicspeaker with his audience, that is just as strong asthough it was something tangible and visible. Ifin an audience of a thousand people there is oneperson who is not in sympathy with my views, oris inclined to be doubtful, cold, or critical, I canpick him out. When I have found him I usuallygo straight at him, and it is a great satisfaction towatch the process of his thawing out. I find thatthe most effective medicine for such individuals isadministered at first in the form of a story, althoughI never tell an anecdote simply for the sake of tellingone. That kind of thing, I think, is empty andhollow, and an audience soon finds it out.
This point is rooted in important civil liberties concerns. We don't give the FBI the power to investigate people so that it can report on their characters or behavior, so that the FBI director can pronounce on the truthfulness of their public utterances (which Comey endeavored not to do and yet inevitably did repeatedly simply by reporting his findings). And we don't give congressional committees the power of oversight, generally speaking, so that they can review individual prosecutorial decisions by flyspecking the details of the conduct of particular investigations vis a vis individual subjects. We give the FBI these powers so that it can investigate crimes. And if the Justice Department is not going to prosecute someone, it generally has no business talking about the conduct of that person's affairs. 2b1af7f3a8