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Sarah Dalany, footed, tharat a hug with har fitter, Be f fie, who died
in 199S at 104. Sarah Dalany died Monday at 109. The duo authored
the bettselling biography, "Having Our Say."
>'a .m / m
Delany dies at 109
By CHELSEA CARTER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
: > :
NEW YORK - Sarah "Sadie" Delany, who became a best-sell
ing author at 104 with her and her sister's reminiscences of a cen
tury of achievement as black women, has died. She was 109.
Ms. Delany died in her sleep Monday at the suburban New
York City home she had shared with her sister, said her nephew,
Harry Delany. Bessie Delany died in 1995 at the age of 104.
The two spry and witty women were celebrated as independent
and educated, with the gumption and humor to sustain tljem dur-:
ing the early days of the century in their native Raleigh to Harlem
They wrote "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100
Years" with journalist Amy Hill Hearth. Published in 1993, it
includes matter-of-fact references to the degradation they wit
nessed: the post-slavery years, segregation laws and violent racism.
Bessie was nearly lynched once, as a young woman, after a run-in
with a white at a railroad station.
There were triumphs. too?- their impressive family saga, their
pride in the 1960s civil rights movement and their success in the
world of work in an age when most women stayed home.
"1 never let prejudice stop me from what I wanted to do in this
life." Sadie once said. .
The book sold millions and has become a high school and col
lege text as well as a play, "Having Our Say," which ran on Broad
way in 1995 and was nominated for three Tony awards.
"The best tribute we can pay to Ms. Sadie Delany and Dr.
Bessie Delany is to honor the memory of what they were," said
Camille Cosby, the wife of actor Bill Cosby and producer of a
CBS made-for-television movie based on the sisters' book, which is
to air in April and is being filmed in Salisbury.
The sisters, who. described themselves as "best friends from Day
One," and their eight brothers and sisters grew up on the campus
of St. Augustine's College in Raleigh. . *
Their father, freed from slavery as a child, became a vice prin
cipal of the,school and America's first elected black Episcopal
bishop. Their mother helped run the school while instilling self-,
discipline, compassion and confidence in her children, what Bessie
once called "a lot of love and good, sound, honest teaching." All
10 went on to attend college. i
. In their writing and in person, the sisters' contrasting personal
ities were plain - Bessie the sharp-tongued spitfire, Sadie the mild
"Sadie is molasses without even trying," her sister once said.
"She can swejet-talk the world, or play dumb, or whatever it takes
to get by without a fuss.,"
And if Sadie was molasses, Bessie would say, "then I am vine
gar! Sadie is sugar and I'm the spice."
The two migrated to New York in their 20s and got degrees
from Columbia University. Along the way, they met intellectuals
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, entertainers Cab Cal
loway and Lena Home and actor Paul Robeson, and thrived in
white society. Both had successful careers - Sadie as a high school
teacher. Bessie as a dentist.
Sadie became the first bl^ck domestic-science teacher in New
York City public schools, and also had a candy business for a time.
Bessie opened a dental office in Harlem. Neither ever married.
"When people ask me how we've lived past 100, I say, 'Honey,
we never married; we never had husbands to worry us to death,"'
Bessie said. , -
Advised Sadie: "Don't get married just because he looks pretty.
He's got to have good genes, and have some sense."
In 1957, the sisters moved to Mount Vernon, a New York sub
urb. Bessie retired in 1950 to care for their mother, Sadie in 1960.
Past the century mark, they continued to do yoga exercises and
kept up with current events.
"They think that old people haven't got any sense." Sadie said.
"You do slow up as you get old. But you certainly can be wiser
than you were."
Hearth, more than 65 years their junior, first interviewed them
for a newspaper story and persuaded them that their story merited
a book. The three followed up with "The Delany Sisters' Book of
Everyday Wisdom" in 1994.
"Doing quality work - that's what brings you self-respect and
that's something folks seem mixed up about today," Sadie wrote.
"You hear all this talk about self-esteem or self-respect, as if it
were something other people could give you. But what self-respect
really means is knowing that you are a person of value rather than
thinking 'I am special' in a self-congratulatory way.'*
Ms. Delany's last book. "On My Own at 107: Reflections on a
Life Without Bessie." appeared in 1997.
She is survived by 14 nieces and nephews.
Jury selection begins in dragging death case
By MICHAEL GRACZYK
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
JASPER, Texa* - A black
man was dragged to his death
behind a pickup truck and his
shredded body was left outside a
black cemetery "as some form of
a message," a prosecutor told
prospective jurors Monday in the
case's first murder trial.
Jasper County District Attor
ney Guy James Gray briefly out
lined the details of James Byrd
Jr.'s death as defendant John
William King buried his head in
his hands at the mention of the
"James Byrd at the time he
was chained at the back of the
pickup truck was alive," Gray
said. "Not only was he alive, he'
was conscious at that time, and
he was using his elbows and his
body in every way he could to
keep his head and shoulders
away from the pavement."
Gray described how the body,
"swinging out right and left like
a boat pulling a skier," slammed
into a culvert, shearing off
Byrd's head and shoulder after
he had been dragged by a chain
for several miles on June 7.
The killing shocked the
nation and the world, drawing
new fqcus to racial crimes. There
were gatherings in the town of
8,000 of the Ku Klux Klan and
the New Black Panthers.
King, 24, an unemployed
construction worker and avowed
white supremacist, is the first of
three men to be tried. The mur
der trials of Shawn Allen Berry,
23, and Lawrence Russell Brew
w-1 -a , a
er, 31, haven't been scheduled.
King was described as the
ringleader. In place of shackles,
he sat attentively with a 50,000- ?
volt electric belt tied around his
waist as Gray spoke.
If convicted, King could be
sentenced to life in prison or
King denies killing Byrd, say
ing he stood by as Berry commit
ted the murder over a soured
drug deal. Byrd's blood was
found on the shoes of all three
m m m* -m
suspects, and other personal
items and DNA samples found at
the scene implicate the three,
Gray told possible jurors that
the 49-year-old Byrd was intoxi
cated after attending a party the
night of his death. He was walk
ing home when the three men
picked him up. They drove to a
remote area northeast of Jasper
in East Texas and, after a scuffle,
Byrd wound up chained to the
back of the truck, prosecutors
Gray noted that while the
body could have been dumped
anywhere on the numerous log
ging roads in the area and
remained missing for weeks or
months, "they chose to take that
body and leave that body in front
of a black cemetery, as some
form of a message."
A panel of 12 jurors and two
alternates will be selected. Attor
neys expect testimony to take six
to eight days.
- A . m a
Opening orguommnt* bmgan Monday m tho cat* of Jamms Byrd. Tho Tbxas man wot btutaUy murdorod
this past summor. His killors allogodly droggod him bohind tho track pkturod abort.
Foundation searching lor keys to late of 364th regiment
By JAMES O. CLIFFORD
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN FRANCISCO - The all
black 364th regiment of World
War II had a history of causing
trouble: brawling, crashing base
dances and even taking on civil
ians. In short, fighting with every
body but the enemy.
More than 50 years later, a
black History foundation wants to
find out jf hundreds of soldiers
were yanked from the outfit and
sent in harm's way for speaking
out against the Jim Crow laws of
the time. Meanwhile, the rest of
their comrades sat out the war in
Alaska, where American forces
had already beaten back the Japan
The Army transferred nearly
300 of the 3,000 black soldiers to
other regiments, possibly in a move
to weed out troublemakers after
the unit was blamed for riots and
even killings in Arizona and Mis
sissippi, according to The National
Minority Military Museum Foun
"We would like to know where
these men were sent and the'casu
?alty rate among this group of indi
viduals," said spokesman Charles
Blatcher, who has asked the Army
to support his effort to delve fur
ther into military records.
The Oakland-based foundation
began looking into the 364th after
Carrol Case wrote i#i "The Slaugh
ter: An American Atrocity" that
the Army covered up a massacre of
more than 1,200 of the unit's sol
diers at Camp Van Dom near Cen
treville. Miss., in 1943.
The foundation determined
that Case's claim is "not sufficient
ly supported by historical docu
mentation," Blatcher said. . ??;
The Army came to similar con
clusions'after looking into Case's
claim at the request of Rep. Bennie
Thompson, D-Miss., and the
But the foundation's research
raised other questions - particular
ly about what happened to those
soldiers who challenged authority
in the segregated Army.
Anthony Snivley is one soldier
the foundation managed to locate.
Snivley was transferred from the
364th and wounded in action in
Europe after writing a letter to a
black Philadelphia newspaper
complaining of the treatment of
black troops at Van Dorn.
"I have heard of what may hap
pen if I write, but I am not afraid
of the consequences if my story
can bring to life the truth of the
matter," Snivley said in the letter to
the Philadelphia Tribune.
Snivley told the foundation he
had no knowledge of any mas
sacre. He ajso said he felt he had
never suffered punishment for
writing to the newspaper.
Still, the foundation wants to
determine if the transfer was.
"coincidental or an act of reprisal
for speaking out against mistreat
ment," said Blatcher.
That questions remain about
an entire black regiment doesn't
History has largely overlooked
the black soldiers, said the Viet
nam War Navy veteran who .acted
as an historical consultant on the
Defense Department documentary
"African Americans in World War
II: A Legacy of Patriotism and
Even today, major war movies
such as "Saving Private Ryan" and
"Patton" lack references to black
soldiers. But black soldiers did
fight at Normandy, and it was the
mainly black "Red Ball Express"
?I ' ?!?
that kept Patton's tanks fueled and
One thing all parties agree on is
that the 364th was a problem outfit
when it arrived at Van Dorn from
Phoenix, Ariz., in the summer of
One officer, one enlisted man
and one civilian had been killed
and 12 enlisted men were wounded
when 100 members of the regiment
clashed with black military police
in Arizona. Army records list a
half dozen other conflicts at Van
Dorn in the months that followed,
according to foundation chief his
torian Michael Clark.
Like many other mainly north
ern units, the 364th showed resent
ment the moment it arrived in the
Deep South, said Daniel Kryder,
an associate professor of political
science at Massachusetts Institute
of Technology who closely exam
ined the black press, the NAACP
papers and War Department
archives of the time.
. See 364rh on A10
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Nobody knows a neighbor like a neighbor."