Tag Archives: Richland County Public Library

Sadie Delany gets the last say at 107

The image of American educator and author, Sar...

Image via Wikipedia

I just read “On My Own at 107:  Reflections on Life Without Bessie,” by Sarah L. Delany (Sadie)  with Amy Hill Hearth.  It was one of Readalikes suggested by the Richland County Library at One Book, One Columbia.  Throughout the book, Sadie speaks in the first person to her dear departed sister, Bessie.

After reading, “Having Our Say:  The Delany Sister’s First 100 Years,”  I was anxious to learn about Sadie’s experience with moving on with life  after having spending over a century with Bessie.  Of the two sisters, I have to say that I believed the Lord was kind to Bessie for allowing her to exit this earth life first.

I came to understand just how more sensitive Bessie was from Sadie’s reflections in this book.  I believe Sadie was more suited to such a great loss and had already made it through the loss of her mother after being her mama’s girl.

Anyway, if I understand what it means to be a big sister, if Sadie could speak now, I believe she would tell us that she would not have it any other way.  Beautiful paintings of Bessie’s most loved flowers from her garden and verses of scripture are thoughtfully placed throughout the book.  It was very significant to me how the garden became a great source of strength to Sadie.  It was almost as if Bessie was reaching back into this existence to provide solace for her grieving sister.

As Sadie took comfort in each developing flower, I realized that we really can find important things in this life to give our strength to that when we pass on, loved ones can feel our influence in tangible ways.  Sadie was sensitive to this influence because she had cultivated the faith which she had been taught in early years.

It is so rewarding to me to have this personal testimony of faith.  I have truly bonded with the sisters because they were raised to embrace values that I too hold sacred.  It is so powerful to know of these sisters and the fact that the principles that they lived by never failed them after over 100 years.

I am satisfied that even though they had to live past 100 to be recognized and that even while the world would challenge by own abiding by most of the same precepts, the example of these stalwart sisters shines like a lighthouse.  They overcame.  So can I.

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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Legacy


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Delany sisters’ treasured 100 year oral history

The image of American educator and author, Sar...

Sarah Delany, Image via WikipediaBy Robin Foster

By Robin Foster

Last Friday, as I passed the check out desk at the Southeast Branch of Richland County Library, I noticed a display of yellow books on the counter.  Curious, I moved closer on my way out the door to discover it was the book, “Having Our Say:  The Delany Sister’s First 100 Years,” by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth.

It was near closing so I decided to come back the next day to check it out.  I noticed that there weren’t many left on Saturday morning.  A closer look at the bookmark that was being given out with the book helped me understand about the initiative called One Book, One Columbia.

The City of Columbia and the Richland County Public Library is encouraging all of its community to read “Having Our Say” between April 1 and May 15. I am so glad the author, Amy Hill Hearth, decided to let the sisters tell their story in their own words. I enjoyed reading this great piece of oral history.

Sadie, born in 1889, and Bessie born in 1891, share candid memories about ancestors and growing up when Jim Crow Laws were passed.  These are honestly the best two first-hand experiences of what life was like for African American women before during and after the Civil Rights Era.  My ancestors were reluctant to share their experiences during this time period.

The image of American dentist and author, Anni...

Elizabeth Delany, Image via Wikipedia

I love that we have this record of their struggles to get an education, earn a living, and make their way after leaving Raleigh, NC and migrating to New York.  This family stuck together and even sacrificed took care of their mother in her old age.  We see how sticking to the principles of virtue and morality, faith, love, education, and service brought them happiness and success.  They worked in the past and they worked for them in the present. Those principles worked for them for over 100 years, and they still work today.

I am proud to live in Richland County where such great effort is being made to bring us all together.  I have not quite figured out what all the objectives are yet for One Book, One Columbia, but I am sure they will be surpassed.  I am looking forward to bumping into friends and neighbors an chatting with them once they get an opportunity to read.


See City of Columbia reads oral history of 100 year old sisters to learn more.  I plan to make some of the local events centered around the the book as well.  Look for me!  Click here to see activities.

More links

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years (film)

Bessie Delany Dies at 104; Co-Wrote ‘Having Our Say’

Sarah Louise Delany

Annie Elizabeth Delany

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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in News


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