Daughters Of Men Rachel Vassel November 7, 2007 By Sherri McGee McCovey Too often, we hear about the absence of African American fathers and the negative impact it has on the lives of their children. In the beautiful coffee table book, Daughters of Men: Portraits of African-American Women and their Fathers (Amistad), author Rachel Vassel shines a much-needed spotlight on Black fathers who've done it right. Fathers whose presence has left an enduring mark on the lives of their daughters and the successful careers they've accomplished. The perfect gift, Daughters is a moving, stunning collection of portraits and inspirational essays offered by accomplished women from various walks of life, from sports, media and entertainment to politics, education and medicine. A former executive at the Weather Channel, and married mother of three, Vassel was drawn to the subject despite a strained relationship with her own father. Thankfully, there were strong surrogates in her life as the inspiration for Daughters of Men: EJ: How did you come up with the idea for the book? RV: While at the Weather Channel, I sat on a diversity panel and four of the five women sited the relationship with their fathers as the catalyst for their success. I wondered if there was a connection. EJ: Why do you think the father/daughter bond is so important? RV: Because it effects every aspect of a child's life. Sadly, 65% of black children don't have a father in the home. Many of the social ills [poverty, lack of education] can be linked to fathers not being there. EJ: How many women are featured in the book? RV: There are 44 women from all walks of life. We have entertainers like actress Sanaa Lathan and her father, accomplished television director, Stan Lathan, Georgia State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Leah Ward, and women from sports. The Arts. Education. Law and Psychology. Many of them told me they'd never been asked about their father and were happy to talk about them publicly. EJ: What is your relationship with your father? RV: Early on, my parents had a bad marriage. He missed all the milestones like prom, my marriage, the births of my children. For years, I was bitter, but I believe in reconnecting and forgiveness. God has been so good to me. I don't feel like I've suffered because I had lots of surrogates. We've hashed out our issues. I'm hopeful about the relationship and still anticipate benefiting from his lessons. EJ: What do you hope readers get from this book? RV: I hope men understand how important they are to their children, especially their daughters. I hope women look at these successful women and become inspired. EJ: Is there talk of turning the book into a documentary? RV: Yes. We've already begun filming. I think audiences will enjoy seeing the fathers, hearing their stories, and the interaction and love between them and their daughters. Daughters of Men is in bookstores now.