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Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
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Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  13,589 ratings  ·  588 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
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 1st 1994 by Dell (first published 1993)
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Stormy Friends provided us a copy of a sequel but recommended reading this first. I bought it, enjoyed reading it and have read both sequels. My 15 year old …moreFriends provided us a copy of a sequel but recommended reading this first. I bought it, enjoyed reading it and have read both sequels. My 15 year old grandson wanted to read this this summer. Don't know if he did.
The oldest sister lived until 1999, age 109. Can you imagine living the entire 20th century? Can you imagine living with another person your entire life - sharing everything. There was much history to learn from these two ladies!(less)

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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  13,589 ratings  ·  588 reviews

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Bill Kerwin
Jun 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history

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
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
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
Faith Justice
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Wilhelmina Jenkins
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jul 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Mary Mendenhall
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Stephanie Miller Sproat
Easy to read, sweet memoir.
Chino D
Nov 13, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
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. ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Katie Tatton
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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. ...more
Linda Visser
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved the story of these spunky sisters!
Laura Bang
Really fascinating mediated autobiography. Journalist Amy Hill Hearth first did an interview with sisters Sadie and Bessie for the New York Times and it was so popular that she went back and did a book with them. Sadie and Bessie were 103 and 101 years old, respectively, so they were witness to a lot of American history! (They were born in 1889 and 1891.) Hearth explains her role in the preface and also provides a brief contextual note for each section, and then each chapter is labeled with whic ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In my opinion, I really enjoyed reading the book and my evaluation is five stars. Bessie and Sadie are example of African Americans extraordinary independent woman who passed many obstacles to be successful. the most thing that I like about them is their ways of taking care of themselves, they had healthy life style such as doing yoga and eating healthy food. There is a lot of information about the history of African American civil war,and segregation I learned it from the book. In addition, I l ...more
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Mansfield Public ...: Having Our Say Review by Karin Dionne 1 4 Jul 19, 2013 07:18AM  

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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

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23 likes · 6 comments
“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”
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