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Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years

Sarah Louise Delany and Annie Elizabeth Delany, with Amy Hill Hearth

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Sadie Delany

Sadie Delany

Sadie Delany

Sadie Delany

Sadie, named after her two grandmothers, is an obedient “mama’s child” but takes after her father in terms of personality. She is calm and never judgmental, and because she is lighter-skinned than Bessie, she faces less discrimination. Because of her more easygoing personality, she also takes racial and sexual stereotyping better than Bessie. When a white co-worker snubs her in front of a group of white women, Sadie doesn’t get upset or even end the friendship. Instead, she views the slight as revealing her co-worker’s weak character. She faces old age with the same determined and easy approach. Old age, like racism or sexism, is merely another obstacle to overcome.

Sadie achieves her goals steadily, without coming head-to-head with white authority, and her nonaggressive approach is in some ways similar to that of black leader Booker T. Washington. Sadie acquires her job as the first black woman to teach high school domestic science in New York City by not disclosing her blackness to her prospective employers. When they finally meet Sadie and realize she’s black, it’s too late to turn her away. When her mother dies, Sadie is in her late sixties and finally comes into her own. She has a great ability to focus on the positive aspects of life and keeps a long vision of change. At the end of the century, Sadie faces a group of rebby boys at her home in Mount Vernon and tells them to move off her property. Old age and a lifetime spent with her confrontational sister Bessie make Sadie bolder, and even at 103, she continues to evolve.

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Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (SparkNotes Literature Guide)