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Having Our Say: The Delany Sister's First 100 Years
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Having Our Say: The Delany Sister's First 100 Years

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,370 Ratings  ·  447 Reviews
In their 200+ combined years, Sadie and Bessie Delany have seen it all. They saw their father, who was born into slavery, become America's first black Episcopal bishop. They saw their mother--a woman of mixed racial parentage who was born free--give birth to ten children, all of whom would become college-educated, successful professionals in a time when blacks could scarce ...more
Hardcover, 299 pages
Published September 1st 1994 by Turtleback Books (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bill  Kerwin

An absorbing, likable book about two aged sisters who tell the story of their family's rise from slavery to the ranks of the black middle-class. Particularly memorable on the Harlem Renaissance.
May 11, 2012 Gayle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
What a WONDERFUL book!!! This is an oral history taken from the Delany sisters by Amy Hill Hearth, otherwise I would have shelved it as an auto-biography. I felt as if by hugging the book I would have been able to hug these amazing centenarians!! They have since passed away, but their accomplishments and outlook on life will continue to be read and appreciated (I hope by MANY people). There are so many words of wisdom, so many observations and experiences, so much applicable insight I would like ...more
Nov 14, 2007 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Having Our Say is outstanding. it gives you a better understanding of how it felt be be a black person in the slave days. Having Our Say is narrated by two female black sisters. Sadie and Bessie. they are total opposites and equal each other out. they have been through many rough times and learned a lot together. the touffest times that they went through happened when they were young. even though they were mixed, they got no respect from the Whites. and even some blacks did not respect them. the ...more
Nov 24, 2007 Brennan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that Having Our Say was a really good book. I thought it was really cool hearing their life story because they have been through so much. I think that my favorite of the sisters was Bessie. Just because she was always willing to say what she was thinking whether or not she would get in trouble for it. I liked Sadie to she always knew when and when not to fight cretin battles. I think the book got more and more interesting as Sadie, and Bessie got older. One of my favorite parts of the bo ...more
Aug 17, 2008 Jo rated it it was amazing
I read this book about ten years ago and I still remember how much I enjoyed it. It is a captivating oral history by two sisters who lived to be over 100 years old. 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. Bessie became the second black woman to practice dentistry in New York. S ...more
Mar 02, 2009 Maggie rated it really liked it
This is a delightful small memoir of the lives of two 100-year-old African-American sisters who suffered under Jim Crow and other repressive situations, yet managed to be college educated (one a dentist, the other a teacher) and homeowners.

These ladies are absolutely irrepressible! They say whatever they think. Such as: “You see, when you are colored, everyone is always looking for your faults. If you are going to make it, you have to be entirely honest, clean, brilliant, and so on. Because if
Faith Justice
Sep 04, 2010 Faith Justice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-away
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. ...more
Joy H.
_Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years_ (first published in 1993) by Sarah Delany, A. Elizabeth Delany
Added 9/24/11

November 2011: I listened to the audio version of this book. It was read by Whoopi Goldberg who did a great job of narrating the story about the two black Delany sisters who managed to break racial and gender barriers in the early 1900s. An enjoyable and uplifting read.

According to Wiki, the authors were the aunts of science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany, the son of
Feb 17, 2011 K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Having Our Say Bessie, age 101, and her sister Sadie, age 103, fill this book with humorous and poignant anecdotes while 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 bisho ...more
Feb 04, 2010 BookSweetie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How many folks are you acquainted with who are over one hundred years old? Well, here is an oral history-style book that gives you that chance to get to know not one, but two such women -- remarkable ones at that. Sarah (Sadie) and A. Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany are a pair of sisters who teamed up with Amy Hill Hearth to tell us their own stories. What a folksy, delightful and worthwhile read! Each sister's singular personality adds a richness to the history and wisdom they share about being chil ...more
Chino D
Nov 27, 2007 Chino D rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Non-Fiction Lovers
"Having Our Say," By Amy Hill Hearth, was one of the worst books I have ever read.
The book focused itself on two women, women that had been alive for over 100 years. I personally think that they acomplished something I could never have done, but the book was boring, slow, and not much action happened throughout the story.

One woman was named Sarah L. Delany, and the other, A. Elizabeth Delany. Or, Sadie and Bessie. The two sisters had been alive since 1890s to the 1990s, Both believing that the
Mary Mendenhall
Aug 16, 2010 Mary Mendenhall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book a few years back and loved it, so I decided to read it. It's a great account of 2 women who lived for over a century! These African American sisters lived through civil rights, the Depression, World Wars and Vietnam, as well as some personal family tragedies. It's an amazing account of history, as well the story of an exceptional family who rose above oppression, segregation, and racism. All 10 Delaney children were self-educated, professional, respected people- in a time ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Loved this book. Sarah (Sadie) and Bessie Delany were two of the ten children of a former slave. Both their mother and father were well-educated and passed on their love of learning and service to others to all ten of their children. The two sisters never married and lived together for their entire lives (110 years and 104 years). Fiesty women, both ahead of their time, they were trailblazers for both women and African-Americans. Both had advanced degrees. Sadie became an educator and Bessie, a ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Cheryle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued by this book because of its subjects: two mixed-race sisters (who preferred to call themselves "Black"), both of whom lived to be more than 100 years old. They were 102 and 100 years old when the book was written (early '90s), and their father had been born into slavery. He was 8 years old when the Civil War ended, and went on to become the first elected Black Episcopal Bishop in the US.

They discuss growing up in the South, their respective educations, and the Jim Crow years. It'
Apr 13, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book and enjoyed it immensely. It's about 2 sisters who lived to be over 100. They grew up in a large family with their dad who was a former slave and minister and school teacher mother. It's history in the making and these 2 remarkable women are really fascinating. Bessie with her fiery, feisty attitude and the quiet Sadie. Both sisters have a great outlook on life and this is such a wonderful and must read. Sadie became a home economics teacher and Bessie a dentist. Really interest ...more
Linda Visser
Mar 02, 2015 Linda Visser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the story of these spunky sisters!
Apr 02, 2008 Mr rated it it was amazing
This is a great book about two sisters and their whole lives. Bessie ans Sadie Delany learned to eeal with segragation as two strong 'colored' women. Nothing would stop them from doing what they wanted to do in life, not even racism. They would protest, go to court and do whatever it takes. Sadie and Bessies family motto was "Your job is to help someone" They both had helping professions (doctor and dentist) which were extremly hard to get back in the day as a colored women. I reccomend this boo ...more
Aug 11, 2014 Bookguide rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The previous book I read was 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café', which covered some of the same era, so it was interesting to read about the real-life experiences of two black women over a century of great change for attitudes to black people in the USA. At the Whistle Stop café, the white owners often gave food to drifters, and the Delaney family were brought up to give generously to those less well-off than themselves, of whom there were many, particularly during the Depression. D ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book could be called an oral history of the 20th century as Sarah and her sister A. Elizabeth Delany tell the writer Amy Hill Hearth their life experiences. The first meeting between the author and the Delaney sisters was in 1991 when she was working for The New York Times and the sisters had just celebrated their 100th and 102nd birthdays. The author was not sure they would even speak with her because their correspondence was by letter through a neighbor because the sisters chose never to ...more
Wilhelmina Jenkins
Warm, funny, heartrending, enlightening - the Delany sisters' book was just amazing. Because of their family and their own determination, these women personally experienced so much of the good and the bad of this country over a century of living. Reading about the Delany sisters and their family makes it impossible to jump to any quick conclusions about the experiences of African Americans. I would make this book required reading for all Americans.
Apr 08, 2011 Lorena rated it it was amazing
Richland County Public Library is kicking off the first "The One Book, One Columbia" with this title. So far, this book has my hooked after the first 12 pages. If you live in Columbia, check this title out from RCPL. Even if you don't live in Columbia, I think this will be a great read :)
Finished this book and I loved it. The stories told by the two sisters carried me through a hundred years of families in the North Carolina and New York.
Apr 24, 2013 Patsye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating read. I really enjoyed the format with the two sisters alternating their voices. I loved reading about their lives and how they persevered and didn't let the twists and turns of life bring them down. My mother lived to 97, and it was interesting seeing the parallels and differences between their lives in the black community and my mother's in the white community, both in the south.
4.50 stars - pg/pg13

Loved these sweet, fun & feisty old gals who "tell it like it is"! They were mixed race descendants of slaves, who overcame and became highly educated, with good careers. Unmarried and both over 100 years old, they lived together and laughed together. Reading their story, I felt like I was sitting at their feet absorbing history and pearls of wisdom.
I started this thinking it was the next book up for a bookclub (by mistake). I got about 20 pages in and decided it was not my cup of tea. I don't care for racism - even it it's coming from people who survived terrible racism during their lives. I can't tolerate double standard and when they say "There are some nice white people out there" or "I even know some good white people" it's the end of the book for me. Can you even imagine a book getting published with them saying "There are some good B ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Tessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My mom gave me this book to read when I didn't have anything to read a while back and I was intrigued but not sure how much I would enjoy it. But, it was really interesting to learn about the struggles of the sisters along the paths of their long lives and how they've overcome trials. Not only was it entertaining but also educational.
Nandi Crawford
This is probably one of my most favorite books. I will tend to agree when the young man said how the deaths of their siblings seemed so rushed, but I really enjoyed reading about these two sisters. That they made it to 100 and lived is a feat all it's own. that they even wrote a book about it is quite another.
Mar 26, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life is short, and it's up to you to make it sweet.

Ain't nobody going to derail me or my sister now! They think we're sitting around in rocking chairs, which isn't @ all true. Why, we don't even own a ricking chair. We have a lot to do- bills to pay, letters to write, food to prepare!

Well, there are a lot of people who weren't raised properly themselves, so how can they teach their children right? Sometimes it's neglect, sometimes it's just ignorance. And what people don't know will really hold
Sep 05, 2015 Marjorie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a long time ago, but it was delightful to read it again, even in a Reader's Digest condensed version. These two sisters were amazing not just for their longevity, but for all they accomplished as black women born in a time when not a lot of black women were even sent to school, in the post Civil War south. To become a Dentist and a school teacher spoke well of their parents too, who made sure that all of their ten children were healthy and well educated and were taught to be mor ...more
Katie Tatton
An easy read. Interesting points of view from two sisters who are each over 100 years old...makes historical events a little more personal when you can read a first hand account of them. Much of the book is devoted to race issues.
Ashini Desai
Apr 24, 2016 Ashini Desai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago when it was released and Delany sisters were on TV and everywhere. I picked this up for my daughter to read (teen) and decided to read it again. It's very insightful now reading about the Black experience in the US, as it has a historical and personal context. One of the sisters says she could've easily become bitter towards white people, but someone always came along who showed love and compassion. They acknowledge their faults and take pride in their accomplishments ...more
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Mansfield Public ...: Having Our Say Review by Karin Dionne 1 3 Jul 19, 2013 07:18AM  
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“Life is short, and it's up to you to make it sweet.

Sarah L. (Sadie) Delany”
“When people ask me how we've lived past one hundred, I say, 'Honey, we never married. We never had husbands to worry us to death!

A. Elizabeth (Bessie) Delany”
More quotes…