"It took me a hundred years to figure out I can't change the world. I can only change Bessie."
Annie Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany (1891–1995)
Dentist and Author
A mainstay in the Harlem community for much of the twentieth century, "Bessie" Delany came to broader public attention only after the age of 100, when she and her sister, Sarah "Sadie" Delany (1889-1999), a retired teacher, were approached by New York Times reporter Amy Hill Hearth. Following the publication of a newspaper story by Hearth, the threesome collaborated on Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, a best-seller acclaimed as a portrait of a century of African-American life and a self-portrait of pioneering black professional women. It was adapted for Broadway in 1995. The sisters, two of 10 children born to a former slave who became the first African-American Episcopal bishop, witnessed the growth of New York's African-American community from the beginnings of the Harlem Renaissance through the civil rights era and into the modern age.