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on August 14, 2002
Having Our Say is a remarkable book written by Sadie and Bessie Delany that details their lives over a hundred year period.
Bessie and Sadie grew up in a large family on the campus of Saint Augustine's school in Raleigh, North Carolina during the 90s. They led sheltered lives; Sadie was quiet and well mannered whereas Bessie was very quick to anger and opinionated. They were also very intelligent women who were taught early on to aim high. In a time when most people did not go to school beyond high school, Bessie and Sadie received college degrees. Bessie became the second black woman to practice dentistry in New York.
Sadie became the first black home economics teacher in a New York high school. The Delany sisters spoke their minds, and what they give the reader is a story of pure American history.
This autobiography is filled with stories about racism and how it affected their lives. Sadie and Bessie lived together for over a hundred years. Although the sisters are deceased, their story and words of wisdom live on in the hearts and minds of readers.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American History. This book is the best history book I've read and the pictures in the book make the story come alive.
Reviewed by Dorothy Cooperwood
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VINE VOICEon February 4, 2002
I read this book when it first came out in 1993, and I still read it for inspiration. I am trying to get some copies for a African American History program coming up and I recalled that I never did a review on this great book, so here I am. Now these ladies have really told a marvelous story on their lives. It is honest,to the point, and a great oral history from two ladies who told it from the hip and wasn't ashamed of it neither. I was sorry to hear that they both passed on, but thank God, we still have their books to remember them by. Personally, this book should be read by every American,non American and every African American who feels that in spite of obstacles they can't make it. well, here are two examples that did. One was a school teacher and one was a dentist and both worked during segregation. Their whole family were college educated as well. I really liked Bessie. She could have kept you laughing. I know that this is probably not telling you much about these ladies, but take my word for it, once you read it, you won't be disappointed when you do.
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VINE VOICEon May 31, 2007
HAVING OUR SAY: THE DELANY'S FIRST 100 YEARS is simply one of the most engaging, educational and insightful memoirs I have read about two extraordinary women (Bessie and Sadie Delaney) who saw tremendous change and evolution in the world, over the course of (more than) a century. These two fiesty women penned this wonderful book, with an introduction by Amy Hill Hearth, and I remember well how phenomenal it was to see them interviewed together, on PBS, when the book went to press, prior to the release of a made-for-TV-movie version of their memoirs.

This book is great for anyone looking to connect the present with the past; particularly through the eyes of two exceptional women who were born in South Carolina during the mid 1890s, experiencing racism firsthand (as two educated African-American women) and met many individuals who were instrumental in adding art, culture and brilliance to the Harlem Renaissance (a great cultural movement that took place between the 1920s and 1940s, in Harlem, New York, celebrating the cultural achievements of many African-American artists, musicians, dancers, photographers, writers, sculptors and radicals alike). What's more, these two women received college educations at time when it was unusual for Caucasian men to obtain them! Read this and tell two more people to check out the book, when you're through. Great reading!
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on February 2, 2016
With Black History Month starting today, and March being Women's History Month, I'm surprised this book hasn't received more attention. Two independent, accomplished, educated black WOMEN who both lived past 100, spanning the entire twentieth century, tell their remarkable life stories. They were daughters of the first ordained black Episcopal minister in this country, who was actually a slave himself until the age of seven. This brings home that what may seem like terrible events from long ago, weren't as far removed from our time as many think; these women lived in OUR lifetimes, born in the 1890's, living through 1994 and 1999. Already senior citizens when they matched with Dr. King, they lived the history of both the Women's Rights and Civil Rights Movements. Not a long book, you'll really love getting to know these two remarkable sisters, each with their own personality and outlook on the events we know as history, but that they LIVED.
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VINE VOICEon April 10, 2004
The short length and simple format belie the wisdom and inspiration contained in this book. Vignettes from the lives of two remarkable sisters, 102 and 104 years old, span the end of slavery and follow the continuum of American and black history to the present. Their lives, stories, and attitudes are admirable and this is a book well worth reading.
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on August 23, 1998
When one of the Delany sisters died a couple of years ago, I felt a personal sense of loss, having read their engrossing and very personal memoir that was written after they each had reached the century mark. From emancipation until the 1940s, educated African Americans were in such small numbers that they were all acquainted with one another. The sisters remember meeting George Washington Carver, W.E.B. DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell (Jr. and Sr.), Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and a continuing list of the famous and the educated among the nation's first four generations of freed slaves and their progeny. Good health has been Sadie's profession and hobby since she graduated from college with a certificate to teach domestic science. She eventually earned a Master's in education, and Bessie became a dentist. The Delanys enjoyed everything that contributes to a good life (except wealth, which has no doubt come about as a result of the success of their book). The sisters and their eight siblings remained close throughout their lives and followed their parents' example of public service and living a dignified life. A rich spiritual life and living honestly and well seem to have contributed to the longevity of these remarkable women.
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on February 4, 2016
Although the audio read excellently by Whoopi Goldberg is abreviated in certain chapters(I scanned the *paperback while listening to the audio tapes),I found the tapes did not miss the substance of most chapters..it did combine a couple of chapters giving no content..but the audio did not lose the substance of the book )*Paperback ISBN 0-385-31252-0)...Were it not for the reversal of tapes 3 & 4 & the missing chapters an/or paragraphs, I would have rated the audio with 5 stars...abj
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on March 10, 2006
This book was such a joy to read from beginning to end. The life of the Delaney family from slavery to the present is an amazing story of the African American Experience.

Both of the ladies have their own distinct voice and are very funny as they recount the good times, the bad times and the ugly times (racism).

There are so many great quotes I was sorry I didn't have a highliter to make note of them.

You feel as if they are telling the story to you and you are so happy to have them share it with you.

At the end I felt uplifted about life and people in general. If their family could be so decent to people and not be bitter about a society that is so racist there is hope for us all.

I totally recommend it!
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on April 16, 1999
What a wonderful book. So much history. I want their parent's recipe for having ten children all of whom graduated college (although I only have two children!). Well, it boils down to love. Lots of love and care and attention was showered on the girls and their parents had high expectations of all their children. They had some good luck too, especially Bessie the outspoken sister. I can't wait to start Sadie's second book, and I wonder...should I be eating a clove of garlic each day, a teaspoon of cod liver oil, and do some yoga?
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on June 1, 2016
Loved this book. I couldn't put it down and finished it in 2 days! You will find yourself laughing out loud (and at times getting upset) right along with the Delany sisters. The author did a great job writing this book and making your feel as if you were sitting right there with the Delany sisters as they were telling their story. I did watch the movie after I read the book and I have to say that the book is so much better.
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