Essential American History: “Having Our Say”; and “Having Their Say”

OLIVIA COLE, left, plays Sadie Delany and Brenda Pressley is Bessie Delany in “Having Our Say.” ( T. Charles Erickson )
I have my tickets for “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” now performing at Hartford Stage, March 31- April 24.  Do you have yours? If not, better reserve them quick. 
Hartford Stage’s website describes the play’s essence: “103-year-old Sadie Delany and 101-year-old Bessie Delany were the daughters of a former slave, grew up in the Jim Crow South, lived in Harlem during its renaissance, and had professional careers as a teacher and a dentist, respectively. While they make dinner to remember their father’s birthday, the two sisters tell us the story of the last century, as they lived it. History at its most immediate, and poignant.”

In his Hartford Courant review, Christopher Arnott writes “Having Our Say is a special sort of show. Part storytelling revue, part civil rights drama, part housekeeping ritual. The stories Sadie and Bessie tell largely concern the racism and chauvinism they experienced as African-American women during the 20th century, tempered with tales of personal triumph, social progress and supportive friends and family members.”

And don’t miss Witnessing History: The Life and Times of the Delany Family featured in Hartford Stage’s Stagenotes. The timeline of history paralleling the Delany sisters’ lives is impressive.
Finally, kudos to Hartford Stage and “Connecticut Humanities, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, as recommended by the Jackson-Batchelder Family Fund,” for sponsoring Having Their Say: Generations in Conversation. Don’t miss these stories. They are powerful and emotional.


Developed as an online companion piece to the Delany sisters’ story, Having Their Say is an oral history project in which Hartford Stage “invited a group of local African-American female students to partner with 10 African-American women over the age of 70 to share stories specific to our Hartford community. Through a series of intergenerational dialogues, the participants exchanged their personal journeys, reflecting on the influences that have shaped their lives here in our city.”

Don Shaw, Jr.
Write and Editor

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