Study Guide

Having Our Say Part II, Chapter 6: Sadie and Bessie - Our Mama's People

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Part II, Chapter 6: Sadie and Bessie - Our Mama's People

  • Nanny Logan is born in Yak, Virginia to James Miliam—a white man who also happens to be the "meanest-looking man" in the town—and Martha Logan, a black freewoman (2.6.2).
  • The story is that a man named James Logan left home for the War of 1812 and returned to find that his wife had two daughters with a slave. To everyone's surprise, he raised the daughters as his own.
  • Those two girls are named Patricia and Eliza. Eliza has a relationship with a white man and their first daughter is named Martha.
  • Although Martha is "one-quarter N****" and free-born, she is not legally recognized by society or even allowed to marry (2.6.8). As a result, Martha and James never tie the knot, but remain committed for their whole lives.
  • Mr. Miliam makes it clear that no one should mess with Martha—most black women at the time were constantly harassed or worse (2.6.12).
  • He's also a jack-of-all-trades: a farmer, amateur dentist, and herbal doctor. Martha isn't too shabby herself, starting her own business selling pasteurized dairy products.
  • They have two daughters: Eliza and Nanny. Although Eliza gets married young, Nanny is dead-set on going to college.
  • Martha moves to Raleigh with Nanny after she decides to go to St. Augustine's. She would still come home to visit James all the time, however.
  • Martha passes away in 1908 at sixty-six years of age. James is devastated.
  • One time, a guest at his house insults Harry (Sadie and Bessie's brother) at dinner. James flips out and tells him to get out of this house before he finds "himself dead" (2.6.25).
  • James dies just two years after Martha passes, and the sisters believe that it was mostly due to grief. He leaves his money to Nanny and is buried beside Martha.

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