Thursday, June 12, 2008


In honor of Father's Day, I've highlighted Rachel Vassel's DAUGHTERS OF MEN which includes full-color photographs and essays about successful black women and the role their fathers played in their lives. I asked Rachel to give us a little more insight into the stories in the book:

1. Naturally, the daughters and fathers featured in the book have very different backgrounds. However, were there any common threads you came across in most of the stories?

I found that all the father daughter pairs spent a good deal of time together. The fathers made it a priority, whether it was walking their daughter to school, taking trips together or bringing their daughter to their workplace. Also, many of the dads encouraged their daughters by telling them that they were smart or beautiful - and the daughters internalized these comments, building their self esteem. Half the battle of becoming a success is believing that you can do it and that you're worthy. What a gift these daughters received!

2. Was there any one interview you found particuarly suprising or insightful?

Being from NYC, I didn't know much about civil rights leader Hosea Williams, who was a legend in the South and whose daughter Elizabeth Omilami was profiled in the book. He was a chemist who quit his job to join the movement full time-which of course was a huge sacrifice that impacted his family. He also owned several businesses that financed his key initiatives, like Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, which is now run by his daughter. This was a man who was intelligent and determined enough to create the wealth that he felt was required to change the world. He didn't wait for somebody else to make things happen or to finance his ideas, but you wouldn't necessarily know that because he lived so modestly.

3.How did you choose your subjects, especially those who are not did you know they had a great father story to tell?

I either received a great referral on the individual or I would call them up and have a conversation before deciding. This is not the kind of thing you can learn about on the internet, since most of the women in the book told me that they'd never been asked about their fathers during an interview. It was hit or miss with the father stories and some of the daughters I wanted to include just didn't fit. We also wanted to ensure that we had women of all ages and professions represented, as well as dads with a variety of backgrounds.

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