Square Books will host a community conversation on Katheryn Stockett's bestselling novel, The Help, on Wednesday, September 28 at 5 p.m. The conversation, The Help: Fact and Fiction, will be led by Ole Miss journalism instructor Deidra Jackson and author Gene Dattel.
This conversation hopes to provide revealing insights about the complexity of race and the Civil Rights era from an American, not just Southern, perspective. It will explore The Help’s sources to reveal where fact ends and fiction begins.
Gene Dattel was born in Greenwood, MS where parts of the film version of The Help was filmed. Dattel is the author of Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Costs of Economic Power. Dattel studied history at Yale and law at Vanderbilt. He then embarked on a twenty-year career in financial capital markets as a managing director at Salomon Brothers and Morgan Stanley. Fifteen of those years were spent working in financial markets overseas - in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. A consultant to major financial institutions and the Pentagon, he established a reputation as a foremost authority on Asian economies. His The Sun that Never Rose (1994) remains the definitive work on Japanese financial institutions in the 1980s. Mr Dattel is now a New York/Connecticut-based financial historian who lectures widely.
Deidra Jackson has taught undergraduates at Ole Miss for seven years. She began teaching journalism after five years as a communications specialist in UM Media & PR. Prior to returning to work at UM, where she received a master’s degree in 1995, she served as editor of the weekly Triangle Tribune newspaper in Durham, N.C. and spent more than six years as a reporter at the News & Observer, covering courts, schools and suburban communities out of the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C. news bureaus. She also has been a newspaper reporter in Mississippi. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Mississippi University for Women (Columbus), where she cut her teeth in journalism under the mentorship of a former (Memphis) Commercial Appeal managing editor, she worked as a broadcast news personality at three Mississippi radio stations before heading to North Carolina to pursue a career in newspapers. In addition to teaching and advising students, she also serves as technical editor of The Financial Review, a quarterly financial economic research journal. An avid researcher throughout college, she currently is collecting photos and conducting interviews in hopes of documenting black life in Oxford in the 1940s and 1950s. She also writes for the Oxford Eagle, which recently published her story, "The Help shouldn't sell us warm, fuzzy nostalgia."