Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Having Our Say: The Delany Sister's First 100 Years” as Want to Read:
Having Our Say: The Delany Sister's First 100 Years
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  12,577 Ratings  ·  516 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Having Our Say, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Barbara I bought it and read it many years ago. I enjoyed reading about the ladies.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if this really a five star book, but I read it when it first came out, when I was in my early 30s, and I have often thought of it in the years since. I wanted to read it again, so about a decade ago I picked up a copy and saved it for a rainy-day comfort/ inspiration read. Well, now I'm using for a 'read a bestseller challenge' *and* for personal inspiration, and it's just as wonderful as I remember. I love these women's voices, and love learning about history from their experiences ...more
Nov 03, 2011 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 13, 2007 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
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
I have had this on the shelf for a number of years since we saw a theatrical adaptation of the book. An interesting if not compelling story of two centenarian sisters and their family history starting back to the civil war. Their observations and way of life are most interesting.

Nov 13, 2007 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
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.
Jul 26, 2008 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
Aug 17, 2008 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
Faith Justice
Sep 04, 2010 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 04, 2010 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
Feb 17, 2011 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
Mary Mendenhall
Jul 13, 2010 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
Chino D
Nov 13, 2007 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
Sandy D.
A book club choice that I vaguely remembered being a bestseller about 10 years ago (it was published in 1993).

It was an interesting book, the story of two elderly Black women born in 1889 and 1891 and raised in a large, upper-middle-class academic family. Both Bessie and Sadie put careers and their existing family before their own romantic relationships. One became a dentist in Harlem, the other a schoolteacher.

Their descriptions of Jim Crow, "rebby boys" (racist white boys), differences in thei
Feb 18, 2013 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 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'
Mar 14, 2008 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
Apr 13, 2008 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
Apr 24, 2013 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.
Apr 03, 2011 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.
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.
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.
Sep 01, 2012 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.
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.
Susan Nikaido
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE THIS BOOK! A fascinating look at a segment of our country's history through the lives of two strong, courageous, funny and feisty ladies who lived it. It left me smiling.
Linda Visser
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the story of these spunky sisters!
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having Our Say is the life story of two black sisters, as told by them, with assistance from Amy Hill Hearth. Their life story begins with very early childhood memories, and the history of their ancestors. I found this to be an extraordinary tale of the realism expressed by the Delany sisters, and the challenges and successes throughout their longevity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the depth of character and honesty revealed throughout this interesting book. The generational history is a wonderful examp
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't have read this book if I wasn't forced to, for a grade. But, I was able to stay engrossed. I did not love the book, but I enjoyed it. It is a good read for a historical book. I shouldn't say some of the reasons that I didn't like it because it may offend some people. It may be my opinion but I will probably offend someone. I did enjoy the humor in the book, especially at the end about the strange plant in the garden. That was very funny! I would recommend this book, but it isn't for e ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Mansfield Public ...: Having Our Say Review by Karin Dionne 1 4 Jul 19, 2013 07:18AM  
  • This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now
  • Growing Up
  • Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond
  • Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black
  • Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965
  • Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White
  • Interiors: A Black Woman's Progress
  • The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story
  • The Road from Coorain: A Woman's Exquisitely Clear-Sighted Memoir of Growing Up Australian
  • Foxy: My Life in Three Acts
  • The Color of Love: A Mother's Choice in the Jim Crow South
  • The Learning Tree
  • My House
  • Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish
  • Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the  South Pole
  • Don't Play in the Sun: One Woman's Journey Through the Color Complex
  • Some Soul to Keep
Sarah Louise "Sadie" Delany (September 19, 1889 – January 25, 1999) was an African-American educator and civil rights pioneer who was the subject, along with her younger sister Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany, of the New York Times bestselling oral history, Having Our Say, by journalist Amy Hill Hearth. Sadie was the first Black person permitted to teach domestic science at the high-school level in the ...more
More about Sarah L. Delany

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays
    $17.99 $2.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
“Life is short, and it's up to you to make it sweet.

Sarah L. (Sadie) Delany”
“Anyway, they went and built this silly housing project, with us living right across the street from it. Some of the children from the housing project got into trouble. You can't just take people who don't have anything, don't know what they're doing, pack them in a bunch of buildings, and expect it's going to all work out somehow.
- Sadie”
More quotes…