Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters First 100 Years

by Sarah Louise Delany,A. Elizabeth Delany,Amy Hill Hearth,Sarah Delany Paul De Angelis

Hardcover, 1997




Kodansha USA Inc (1997), Hardcover


Warm, feisty, and intelligent, the Delany sisters speak their mind in a book that is at once a vital historical record and a moving portrait of two remarkable women who continued to love, laugh, and embrace life after over a hundred years of living side by side. Their sharp memories show us the post-Reconstruction South and Booker T. Washington; Harlem's Golden Age and Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson. Bessie breaks barriers to become a dentist; Sadie quietly integrates the New York City system as a high school teacher. Their extraordinary story makes an important contribution to our nation's heritage--and an indelible impression on our lives.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MerryMary
Fascinating. I felt like I was touching living history when I read these words. An inside look at a world I never could have dreamed.
LibraryThing member CoraJoanBurgett
This is a powerful book for anyone interested in the Jim Crow South. The Delany sisters grew up in a college atomsphere, were well educated and well read but held back by the "social norms" of that time in North Carolina.
Their inspirational story is an encouragement to all who "make it" out of an impossible social situation. Their success in life can be traced back to their Godly parents.… (more)
LibraryThing member JLCasanova
This book tells of the lives of Bessie and Sadie Delany. At the time of the book, Bessie is 100 years old and Sadie is 102 years old. Both recount their tales of growing up in America as African Americans. Sadie tends to be the quieter and more polite of the two, while Bessie is more confrontational and abrupt. They are born to a father who was once a slave and a mother who could pass for white. These two women come a long way in this story, from growing up on the sheltered campus of St. Aug school to buying their very own house in Mount Vernon, New York. Geography teachers can have students create a map that shows the many places that the women lived. History teachers can use this book as an introduction to civil rights or Jim Crow Laws. Students can create a timeline of the events that occurred in the women’s lives. English teachers can have students conduct an interview with someone who is at least seventy-five years old and note how he or she sees differences in the world. Students can also research some of the famous people Bessie and Sadie met, such as Booker T. Washington or Lena Horne. They could also uses this as an introduction into the Harlem Renaissance. Science teachers can have students research what credential were necessary for Bessie to complete dental school and see how that differs from what students need today. This book has humorous anecdotes in it that make the story enjoyable for the reader. It is told in a simple style so that a sixth grader can understand, but even adults will love to read this captivating tale. The story follows a chronological order as it walks the reader through the Delany sisters’ interesting lives. The book only contains a table of contents, some black and white photographs that are lumped together in the middle of the book, and a family tree. There is no bibliography because all of the information comes straight from the two women. I would absolutely recommend this book to any teacher or librarian. I loved this book and could not put it down, and I can see its value in any classroom.… (more)
LibraryThing member Marlene-NL
I now see why so many people liked it. For me it was just an okay book. Some interesting parts.
LibraryThing member tashi
"Fun, when it wasn't painful. It opened my eyes to the fact that Jim Crow laws actually reversed some progress that had been made towards integration ... Lyndon Johnson may have had his faults, but his support of the Civil Rights Act was courageous and remarkable. This is a beautiful book about two very interesting and beautiful people!… (more)
LibraryThing member diovival
It bugs me that I can't remember exactly when I read this book. I think sometime during high school? It made the rounds in my family. Everyone enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
Two sisters of mixed parentage, both over 100 years of age, share their observations on life from a unique perspective. Their father was born into slavery, but became the first black bishop in the Episcopal church, as well as vice-principal of St. Augustine's School in Raleigh, NC. Bessie was the second black woman to be licensed to practice dentistry in New York State; Sadie was a teacher. Both women chose their professions over marriage, feeling they could not do justice to both, but both also spent endless time and effort supporting members of their large family when need arose. They were active in the civil rights movement, and witnessed an incredible march of history. They lived together in Harlem for many years, and eventually moved to a predominantly white neighborhood in Mount Vernon, NY, where Bessie died at the age of 104 (about 3 years after this book was written), and Sadie died at 107. This is just irresistible.
Review written March 2016
… (more)
LibraryThing member librisissimo
Read this sometime before starting LT, and enjoyed it tremendously. Very informative and entertaining.
LibraryThing member nancynova
Very good memoirs about what is was liked being colored in the 1900's through today
LibraryThing member MarysGirl
A delightful read! I sailed through it in just a week of bus and subway rides. These two sisters lived remarkable lives and have much to teach about tolerance and perseverance. The copyright on the book is 1993 and I wanted to find out what happened to these lovely ladies, so I Googled them and found they published a second book "The Delaney Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom" and inspired a Broadway play. Bessie (Dr. Anna Elizabeth Delaney) passed on at age 104 in September 1995. Sadie (Sarah L. Delaney) wrote a final book "On My Own at 107: Reflections on My Life Without Bessie" before her death at the age of 109 in January 1999.… (more)
LibraryThing member Toneicya
Great Book! I read this book as a child and it was very interesting.


Original publication date


Physical description

9.3 inches


156836010X / 9781568360102

Local notes

Page: 0.5226 seconds