Rachel Vassel is the author of the award-winning book Daughters of Men (Amistad) a moving collection of beautiful photographs and inspirational essays about the role fathers play in the lives of successful Black women. Daughters of Men was named the Best Book of 2007 by Black Issues Book Review and Book of the Month in May 2008 by Go On Girl! Book Club. The book received the Founder’s Award from Real Dads Network/NYS Fatherhood Initiative and the Black Family Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Zeta Nu Omega Chapter, New York). Since the book’s publication, Vassel has given talks at corporations, libraries, and literary festivals.
From Beyonce Knowles to Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice, Leah Ward Sears, many African American women attribute much of their success to a positive father figure. In Daughters of Men, Vassel has compiled dozens of stunning photographs of high-profile and celebrity African-American women and their fathers. The photographs are paired with compelling personal essays, in which each woman details her father’s influence on her life. For instance, Studio Museum of Harlem chief curator, Thelma Golden, tells how her father was the one to take her to free cultural offerings in New York City, instilling in her a love of the arts. Daughters of Men provides a much needed outlet to highlight positive images of Black male fathers.
Parallel to her study of the paternal bond ran a personal journey: Vassel’s successful attempt to re-build her relationship with her father. As they re-connected, she was able to rid herself of the tumultuous emotions she had been holding on to, for the many years after he left her family.
Despite her father’s absence, Vassel grew up surrounded by strong male role models. It is because of these men that she developed her reverence for men as steadfast nurturers. From her grandfather, she learned the qualities of a dedicated husband and the definition of “hard work,” while from her brothers, she gained self-confidence and a sense of always being protected. Vassel’s book honors not only all devoted African-American fathers, but specifically, these “surrogate fathers” in addition to the father of her children. Her husband, “stable, consistent and committed” to their family – embodies the qualities Daughters of Men reaffirms as invaluable.
After spending 14 years working in various positions in advertising and sales for The Weather Channel, Music Choice, and Young & Rubicam, Vassel recently transitioned from a fast-paced corporate career into the creative world, ultimately fulfilling her birthright as the daughter and sister of artists. Vassel lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three children.
Praise for Daughters of Men:
“A stunning testament to the Black father-daughter bond.”
“A book that will inspire, uplift, and encourage and make you smile.”
– Palm Beach Post
“A moving, stunning collection of beautiful portraits and inspirational essays.”
– The New York Amsterdam News