Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Our Say' Covers Century's Gain, Pain

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Our Say' Covers Century's Gain, Pain

Article excerpt

At first, it doesn't sound like the stuff of high drama.

Two African-American sisters, both more than 100 years old,

talk directly to the audience about what they've seen in a

century of living, while they cook a birthday dinner in honor of

their late father.

The smells of baking ham, pound cake and ambrosia fill the air

in Having Our Say, a Tony-nominated play to be performed Friday

at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

But don't get too cozy.

Yes, Variety called it "the ultimate family values show." But

while some of the stories told by Sadie and Bessie Delany are

inspiring or humorous, others are full of pain and fierce pride,

describing the discrimination the sisters had to face in their

drive to achieve.

"I never let prejudice stop me from what I wanted to do in this

life, child. Life is short. It's up to you to make it sweet,"

Sadie Delany tells her audience.

Both sisters did create remarkable lives.

Sadie Delany received a master's degree from Columbia

University and became the first African-American to teach home

economics in New York City high schools.

Bessie Delany graduated from the Columbia Dental School in

1923, the second black woman in New York to be accredited as a

dentist. During the 27 years of her dental practice in Harlem,

she never raised her fees.

Although they came from a family of 10 children, the Delany

sisters never married or had children, preferring to concentrate

on their careers. They were also active in cultural and

political life.

The Delanys took part in the 1920s cultural awakening known as

the Harlem Renaissance and knew many of the era's notables. Not

only do the Delanys talk of friends and family, they also

discuss black leaders from Marcus Garvey to Jacksonville natives

James Weldon Johnson and A. Philip Randolph.

They first told their stories through a 1993 memoir of the same

name that became a surprise best-seller. …

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