Study Guide

Having Our Say Summary

By Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth

Having Our Say Summary

So you want to know about the Delanys, huh? Well, let's start at the beginning.

First Generation

Henry Delany is seven years old when the Civil War ends. Unlike many former slaves, Henry is still with his entire family and is able to read and write. Both of these facts prove be very helpful in those early years. Being a smart cookie, Henry decides to attend St. Augustine's College in Raleigh and become a member of the clergy.

Nanny Logan is the daughter of a free black woman named Martha Logan and a white hillbilly named James Miliam. She's a pretty smart cookie too (can you tell it's almost lunchtime?) so she decides to attend where else but St. Augustine's College. That's where she falls in love with hunky Henry Delany, whom she marries and has ten kids with.

The Next Generation

Meet Sadie and Bessie, their oldest daughters. They're both sharp girls (especially after growing up at St. Aug's) who spend their early twenties traveling and teaching at underprivileged schools. Once they've saved up enough money, they decide to go to college in New York City.

Now living in Harlem, Bessie becomes a dentist and Sadie becomes a teacher. They encounter a bunch of discrimination over the course of their education and careers but still manage to excel at a high level. Harlem goes through plenty of highs and lows—most notably the Great Depression—but our persistent sisters work hard and support their community.

Nanny moves in with the sisters after Henry passes away and the three of them have some great times together. But that doesn't mean things are easy: Bessie is forced to quit her job to care for Nanny and the three of them move to the Bronx. Then, when Nanny passes away in 1956, the sisters decide to make their biggest move yet—to the suburbs.

Last Ladies Standing

At the time of the book's writing, both sisters are over one hundred years old. Although they faced plenty of discrimination when they first moved to the suburbs of Mount Vernon, that too has faded over time. And don't think that these two ladies have calmed down in their old age—if you put your ear to their wall in the middle of the night, you can still hear those two sisters laughing and having a rollicking good time.