100 Years Of Degradation

Students were assigned this essay as an inside look at oppression and racism
from the last one hundred years, told by two elderly ladies in the book, Having

Our Say. 100 Years of Degradation There are several books that have to be read
in English 095. Having Our Say is one of them. My advice is to read this book
while you are still in 090 or 094, just to get the advantage. These are some
things that you will discover in this extraordinary biography. This book is
tough to take as humorous, because itís heart-wrenching to look at racism in

America, but Having Our Say, manages to pull off the feat. Having Our Say really
makes you think and tries to somehow reflect on the past as if you were actually
there. As a white male, I am amazed at how these two African American sisters
were able to live through over one hundred years of racism and discrimination,
and then be able to write about their experience in a humorous, yet very
interesting way. Having Our Say chronicles the lives of Sadie and Bessie Delany,
two elderly colored sisters (they prefer the term colored to African-American,
black, and negro), who are finally having their say. Now that everyone who ever
kept them down is long dead, Sadie and Bessie tell the stories of their
intriguing lives, from their Southern Methodist school upbringing to their
involvement in the civil rights movement in New York City. Sadie is the older,

103 years old, and sweeter of the sisters. The first colored high school teacher
in the New York Public School System, Sadie considers herself to be the Booker

T. Washington of the sisters, always shying away from conflict and looking at
both sides of the issue. Bessie is the younger sister, 101 years old, and is
much more aggressive. A self-made dentist who was the only colored female at

Columbia University when she attended dentistry school there, Bessie is the

W.E.B. Dubois of the sisters, never backing down from any type of confrontation.

As the sisters tell the stories of their ancestors and then of themselves, and
how they have endured over 150 years of racism in America, they tend to focus
mainly on the struggles that they encountered as colored women. Bessie brings
laughter to the book with her honest, frank, and sometimes, confrontational take
on life. Much of the humor arises from the interactions between the sisters
because of their opposite personalities. The Delany sisters were greatly
influenced by their father. With their father being a minister, the Delanys
learned excellent moral values. These morals played an important part in their
lives. They faced many hardships and trials in over one hundred years. Their
fatherís influence played a major role in their survival. Other people in
society did not know how to react to the Delany sisters. They were different
from most other negro women of their day. They carried themselves with great
pride, and they demanded respect everywhere they went, whether they got it or
not. Although they were very different in many respects, they both possessed a
zest for life. People showed many different reactions to that. I believe that

Sadie and Bessie can teach us all a lesson in life. They were confident, life
filled women. They always tried to put forth a positive outlook on everything,
as if even the struggles were a blessing. For this we owe them a debt of
gratitude. Having Our Say can be somewhat confusing to read at times, but I
truly believe that it is worth the effort. This book will be part of my
collection for a long time. Since we do a bit of research into the times and
circumstances surrounding the books we read, Iíve discovered some interesting
things about their early life environment that might contribute to their
longevity. Harlem offered some amazing creativity in the early nineteen
hundreds. Much of this creativity was referred to as the Harlem Renaissance.

This period gave birth to such figures as Langston Hughes, Bill "Bojangles"

Robinson, renowned writers such as Zora Neile Hurston, and many others. The

Renaissance also gave way to organizations such as National Association for the

Advancement of Colored People, the Urban League, and the Universal Negro

Improvement Association, several of which are all still operating. My view is
that the poetry was the best thing about this time. It was filled with emotion
and conviction. During my research, I read quite a few of the poems from the

Renaissance. In doing so, I had found a favorite. This poem