Having Our Say
The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
Publication Date: January 1997
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.
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 and America'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.
"I felt proud to be an American citizen reading Having Our Say...the two voices, beautifully blended...evoke an epic history...often cruel and brutal, but always deeply humane."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"The Lord won't hold it against me that I'm colored because he made me that way! He thinks I am beautiful! And so do I even with all my wrinkles!"
-- Bessie Delany, at age 102
"This Jim Crow mess was pure foolishness. It's not law anymore, but it's still in some people's hearts. I just laugh it off, child. I never let prejudice stop me from what I wanted to do in this life."
-- Sadie Delany, at age 104
"This book is destined to become a classic! The Delany sisters--leave to us the best of legacies-two sets of dancing footprints for us to follow all our days ahead."
-- Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves
"An unforgettable testimony to the dignity and courage of African-American women."
-- Shirlee Taylor Haizlip