Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
In Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters, First 100 Years, siblings Sarah Louise ("Sadie") Delany and her sister Annie Elizabeth ("Bessie") Delany share poignant and humorous details about their lives during the post-Reconstruction 19th century, Jim Crow, two World Wars, the exhilarating days of the Jazz Age of Harlem and how they managed to survive it all (Moore, 34). Co-author Amy Hill Hearth opens the narrative of the lives of Sarah Louise ("Sadie") Delany and her sister Annie Elizabeth ("Bessie") Delany by noting that they are among the oldest living witnesses to American history (Delany, Delany & Hearth, 3). Sadie was born on September 19, 1889. Bessie followed almost exactly two years later on September 3, 1891 (Delany, Delany & Hearth, 10-11). At the time of Having Our Say's publication in 1993, Sadie was 104 years old; Bessie was 102.
Co-author Amy Hill Hearth was a white Columbia, South Carolina native and the Westchester, New York correspondent for the New York Times whose article about the history-making women would eventually be turned into a best-selling book that offered an oral history from a race and age group that is rarely heard. Having Our Say offers historical accounts of life for blacks in the United States during the last 100 years, as well as engaging and candid reminiscences by two very learned and genteel African-American centenarians (Steele, 217). Sadie and Bessie's recollections weave a saga of black history from Reconstruction to New York City's Harlem Renaissance to today (Steele, 217).
Carolyn Odom Steele, writing for Black Enterprise magazine, contends that Having Our Say provides an insider's view of what black life was like when race and sex discrimination were not only legal but encouraged (Delany, Delany & Hearth, 217). Based on her reading of the book, she asserts that readers can learn how parental teachings prepared the sisters to...