Study Guide

Having Our Say Part V, Chapter 19: Bessie

By Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth

Part V, Chapter 19: Bessie

  • After graduating from school, Doctor Bessie joins her brother's practice in the heart of Harlem.
  • Although she faces discrimination based on both race and gender, she proves herself to be a skilled dentist "that [...] would take any patient, no matter how sick" (5.19.10).
  • Bessie serves not only poor clients (often pro-bono), but also much of Harlem's elite.
  • One time at a dentist conference, Bessie is given intentionally wrong directions by a white bellhop, leading her to the men's bathroom. She refers to this moment as "one of the lowest points" in her life (5.19.20).

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