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Sadie and Bessie Delany
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    Sarah Louise 'Sadie' Delany (September 19, 1889-January 25, 1999), born in Lynch's Station, Virginia
    Annie Elizabeth 'Bessie' Delany (September 3, 1891-September 25, 1995), born in Raleigh, North Carolina
    Sadie was an elementary and high school teacher in New York City
    Bessie was a dentist
    With journalist Amy Hill Hearth, wrote 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years' (1993) and 'The Delany Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom' (1994)
    Sadie and Hearth wrote 'On My Own at 107: Reflections on Life Without Bessie' (1997)
    Aunts of science fiction author Samuel R. Delany
    They were reluctant to be interviewed by Hearth, feeling that they were not important enough.
    They tended to use the out of date term 'colored' instead of 'black.'
    They refused to have a telephone in their house.
    They were centenarians who appeared in a pantyhose ad.
    They said the secret to their longevity was yoga, garlic, castor oil and staying single: 'We never had husbands to worry us to death.'
    Their father was a former slave who became the first black Episcopal bishop in the US.
    When Raleigh adopted Jim Crow laws segregating public facilities, Bessie snuck a drink from a 'white' water fountain when no one was looking and noted that the water tasted the same.
    They both got advanced degrees at a time when that was rare for black women.
    They lived in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, befriending W.E.B. DuBois, Cab Calloway and James Weldon Johnson (who was also one of Bessie's regular patients).
    Bessie encouraged civil rights leaders to hold meetings in her dental office.
    Bessie commented about 'white privilege,' 'Just look at Dan Quayle. If that boy was colored, he'd be washing dishes somewhere.'
    One of their pieces of advice: 'Never lose your sense of humor. The happiest people are those who are able to laugh at themselves.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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