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Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters First 100 Years [Hardcover]

By Sarah Louise Delany (Author), A. Elizabeth Delany (Author) & Paul De Angelis (Editor)
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Item description for Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters First 100 Years by Sarah Louise Delany, A. Elizabeth Delany & Paul De Angelis...

Two sisters, both over one hundred years old and the daughters of a man born into slavery, recall the triumphs and tragedies of their lives together, discussing their success as African-American professional women during Harlem's golden age. 35,000 first printing.

Publishers Description
"When you get real old, honey," says Bessie Delany, "you lay it all on the table. There's an old saying: Only little children and old folks tell the truth." In Having Our Say Bessie, age 101, and her sister Sadie, age 103, do just that-and then some. Filled with humorous and poignant anecdotes, this inspiring dual memoir offers a rare glimpse of the birth of black freedom- and the rise of the black middle class-in America. It is a chronicle of remarkable achievement.
Sadie and Bessie Delany recall growing up with eight other siblings in turn-of-the-century North Carolina: their father was born in slavery, yet became the nation's first elected black Episcopal bishop; their mother could have "passed" for white but chose not to.
With irrepressible pluck, the sisters confronted the first days of Jim Crow and legal segregation, and took part in the World War I-era migration North, rising to professional prominence during the heyday of Harlem. Along the way they met such legendary figures as black leaders Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois and entertainers Cab Calloway and Lena Home. Both sisters favored careers over marriage, despite many opportunities. Later, they settled in the still partly-rural Bronx, then integrated a suburban neighborhood in the '50s.
Each has triumphed in her own way:
"Queen Bess" with feistiness; "Sweet Sadie" with quiet determination. Though warmly skeptical of each other's style, they remain devoted. "She may be one- hundred-and-one years old, comments Sadie, "but she's still my little sister."
Today they are fragile, yet fiercely independent. They still live alone in their own house. They make their own peach preserves and their own soap, and don't own a telephone ("it's the biggest nuisance invented by mankind"). Radio keeps them informed-and their opinions on current events are to be reckoned with.
Sadie and Bessie Delany's lifelong insights provide us with a priceless oral history of our nation's past century. And what they "have to say" shows us, as no one else can, where we've been, how far we've come...and how far we have to go.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters First 100 Years by Sarah Louise Delany, A. Elizabeth Delany & Paul De Angelis has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2007 page 570
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1994 page 139
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/1994 page 63
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/1997 page 471
  • ALA Best Books Young Adults - 01/01/1994 page 1356
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 747
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2002 page 447
  • Library Journal - 09/15/1993
  • Publishers Weekly - 07/05/1993
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 768
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 973
  • Wilson Senior High Core Col - 01/01/2011 page 692

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Kodansha America
Pages   210
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.54" Width: 6.36" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 15, 1993
Publisher   Kodansha America
ISBN  156836010X  
ISBN13  9781568360102  

Availability  0 units.

More About Sarah Louise Delany, A. Elizabeth Delany & Paul De Angelis

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dr. Elizabeth Delany and Sarah Delany were born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the campus of St. Augustine's College. Their father, born into slavery and freed by the Emancipation, was an administrator at the college andAmerica's first elected black Episcopal bishop. Sarah received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Teachers College at Columbia University and was New York City's first appointed black home economics teacher on the high school level.Elizabeth received her degree in dentistry from Columbia University and was the second black woman licensed to practice dentistry in New York City. The sisters retired to Mt. Vernon, New York, where Sarah, 108, still lives today. Dr. Elizabeth Delany died in September 1995, at the age of 104.
Amy Hill Hearth is a Westchester correspondent for "The New York Times.""

Sarah Louise Delany currently resides in Mount Vernon, in the state of New York. Sarah Louise Delany was born in 1889.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > African-American & Black
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > African Americans > History
5Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Demography
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Special Groups > African American Studies

Reviews - What do customers think about Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters First 100 Years?

What amazing women!  Jun 6, 2008
I am so glad that I read this book. I found it uplifting and inspirational. How amazing that women like this lived, and I am so grateful they shared their story. It is not something I normally would have read, but I am grateful that I gave it my time. It was a very quick read.
Inspiring and entertaining  Nov 23, 2007
"I'm not black, I'm brown!" So says Bessie Delany, at age 100. Despite her years of involvement in the Civil Rights movement, accepting its nomenclature wholesale isn't part of Bessie's personality. She's the feisty sister. Sadie, age 103, is the one who conquers by saying nothing - while going right ahead and doing exactly what she wants. Or by playing dumb, as she and Bessie both put it; but either way, it's always worked for Sadie. These two, the second black woman licensed as a dentist in New York and the first black woman to be appointed a New York City high school teacher, have lived together more years than not in their long lives; and as of this book's publication, they're still in their New York home and taking care of themselves just fine, thank you very much.

What do they have to say? Plenty, mostly in alternating chapters. Their father was born a slave, and their mother's parents - a mulatto woman and a white man - couldn't marry because state law forbade it. That freed slave eventually became an Episcopal bishop, and all ten of his children became college-educated professionals. Sarah and Elizabeth Delany were old enough to be shocked and hurt when Jim Crow became the law of the South, and each had to find her own ways to survive and thrive in spite of both cultural and institutionalized prejudice. Relocating to Harlem, New York City opened new opportunities, but didn't take them away from that familiar struggle. Through it all, Sadie and Bessie lived by the creed their parents had taught them: You're here to do good. To which Sadie added her own maxim: Maybe I can change the world a little bit, by changing me.

The challenges these two women faced are not familiar to me personally, in one sense, because I've never had to face racial prejudice. Yet in the way they met those challenges, with determination, realism ("As long as they need you, you've got that job"), and plenty of humor, any fellow human can surely find inspiration. A wonderful read!

A Candid Piece of American History  Aug 18, 2007
The Delany Sisters are simply a spectacular duo of fighters. Their story is one almost every person would find amazing. The way they see this world, and how their past experiences with Jim Crow and being colored in the South before the Civil Rights Movement shaped their perception of humans forever. The book is filled with very warm humor and it is essential to understand part of the complex psyche of 'colored' people in the United States today, which, by the way, is a term prefered by the Sisters over black or even African American to refer to themselves and their people.
The delightful Delany sisters  Jun 28, 2007
This book was recommended to me by my 95-year-old mother, and I must say it was an excellent recommendation.

Author Amy Hill Hearth must have had numerous conversations with Sadie (age 102) and her "little sister" Bessie (100). The book is written with the words and the spirit of these two special ladies shining through each page. The Delany sisters were born to a father who was a former slave and who got an education and later became the first black bishop in the Episcopal Church. Their mother had white blood, but she chose to marry and socialize among the black race. As the sister explain, if you had one drop of black blood at that time, you were considered a Negro.

The sisters describe their growing-up years and their gratitude for their parents' love, guidance, and the high standards of conduct which they held up to their children. They tell what is was like to be chased by the Ku Klux Klan, discriminated against by teachers and employers, and be the victims of the Jim Crow laws. They mention the illustrious black people, such as Adam Clayton Powell, and Cab Calloway, who were part of their social circle. They tell about their patriotism during WWI and WWII and in one of the most poignant comments in the book Bessie says, "We were good citizens, good Americans! We loved our country, even though it didn't love us back."

This is a look back at American history by two women whose family was prominent in the black community, but mostly unknown in the white world.

It is an eye-opener and is a wonderful story.
The Delany Sisters: Trailblazers  Jun 12, 2007
Let's just say I fell in love with the sisters so much that I adopted their last name. I am in awe of these remarkable woman, still. After living for more than a century they did not believe they had a story to tell. I am grateful that Amy Hill Hearth was able to convince them otherwise.
Their accomplishments were remarkable not only what the two oldest sisters did but the entire Delany family. Their father Henry was borned into slavery, however, he did not use that as an excuse. All of the Delany children were trailblazers because there were no civil rights for people of color in the early 1900's. They did what they had to do, Bessie was honest and brutal as she felt it was her duty to tell people the truth. Sadie was considered the sweet one, however, she too was a go-getter.
I recommend this book and the two other books that were co-authored by Amy Hill Hearth. Without Ms. Hearth these women and their stories would have never been told, I am thankful to her for bringing them into my life. I expected the sisters to live forever but Bessie died in 1995 shortly after turning 104 and Bessie at 109 in 1999. They are still alive in the hearts of many of us and in the pages of their books.

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