Having Our Say : The Story of The Delany Sisters

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Having Our Say is a story of family life, race relations, civil rights, right to vote, and American life through the last century. The sisters lived through the era of Jim Crow laws, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, and several wars. Bessie, somewhat outspoken, and Sadie, soft-spoken, had very different personalities and approach to life. Elizabeth was nicknamed "Queen Bessie" by her father and had a mind of her own. She was emotional and had a quick temper. Sadie was the exact opposite and was nicknamed "Sweet Sadie." She was much calmer and friendly.

The Delany Sisters were well known women, one as a teacher and the other as a dentist. They lived together all their lives and neither sister ever married. After the age of 100, they met a New York Times writer, Amy Hill Hearth. After a publication of a New York Times story by Amy Hill Hearth, they worked together on a book, "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years." The sisters became famous at the ages of 102 and 104.

The Delany sisters talk their lives in Raleigh, North Carolina before segregation, Jim Crow laws, at the turn of the century. When the Civil War ended, freed slaves looked for ways to make a new and better life for themselves and their families. However, many southern states enacted Jim Crow laws that kept former slaves in a much lower class role with few rights. Former slave Henry Beard Delany, Sarah and Elizabeth Delany's father raised his family. Henry Beard Delany was born into slavery in Georgia, but became the first African-American bishop in the Episcopal Church. Their mother was born free in Virginia. By the turn of the century, the Delany family was one of the nation's most important...