“Having Our Say,” Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years Staged at Shades Repertory, Haverstraw

BY GEORGE J. DACRE

 Leslie Smithey
Leslie Smithey

This is the life story of two sisters who lived to be over 100 and how they survived the travails of segregated North Carolina, then moving to New York City and ultimately to Mt. Vernon in Westchester County.

The sisters, Sadie and Bessie Delaney, were black with a lot of white ancestors. They worked their way through college and attained teaching degrees. Raised in the Episcopalian Church, they were devout churchgoers and this helped them overcome Jim Crow in North Carolina and ultimately overcome the greeting by the Welcome Wagon in Westchester, who asked if “the owners of their home was in,” as if the sisters were servants.

They were the only colored students in a class of 170 in New York and they bought land and a home in almost all-white Mt. Vernon. They were part of the civil rights movement with Bessie marching in demonstrations.

Starring in this production at Shades Repertory Theatre in Haverstraw are Donna D. James as Sadie Delaney and Leslie Smithey as Bessie Delaney. The entire production involves the sisters telling their life stories to the audience and is directed by Melinda O’Brien and produced by M and M Productions.

Additonal performances will be April 12 at the Somers Library in Somers; April 27 at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose and May 7 at the Camille Budarz Theatre at the Ossining Publc Library in Ossining.

“Having Our Say” is well written and well acted out  by James and Smithey. I rate it Three Stars Out of Four!!!