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Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Cost of Economic Power: An Online Talk with Gene Dattel
August 4, 2020 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Mark your calendars for two upcoming talks that St. Mary’s and Sturgis Library are co-hosting. The talks will be offered by Gene Dattel. “Mr. Dattel, a cultural and economic historian, grew up in the majority-black cotton country of the Mississippi Delta. He was educated at Yale University and Vanderbilt University Law School. He then embarked on a twenty-year career in global finance as a managing director at Salomon Brothers and Morgan Stanley, spending a majority of his career overseas in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo.” Mr. Dattel will offer Zoom presentations on two consecutive weeks in August that cover the topics of two books he has written: Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Cost of Economic Power and Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure.
Tuesday August 4th
at 4:30 pm:
Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Cost of Economic Power
Wednesday August 12th
at 4:30 pm:
Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure
To view Zoom talk on Cotton and Race, go to
To view talk on Reckoning With Race, go to
Gene Dattel, a cultural and economic historian, grew up in the majority-black cotton country of the Mississippi Delta and attended Yale University. During his freshman year, James Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi and . . . “things started to happen.” As the only Mississippian in his freshman class, he was frequently called upon to explain what was going on “down there.” These events began a life-long interest in race, politics, and economic history.
Mr. Dattel went on to study law at Vanderbilt University and worked in international finance in London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. After his financial career, he returned to this country and began writing and lecturing about race, finance, and economic history.
He has published numerous articles and three books. His first book, The Sun that Never Rose (1994), presciently outlines Japan’s long-term structural problems. His widely acclaimed second book, Cotton and Race in the Making of America (2009) describes the fateful intersection of the power of cotton and the African American experience. In Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure (2017), he outlines American racial issues from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present.
He has served as an advisor to major cultural institutions from The New York Historical Society to The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Working with Clifton Taulbert, he has performed “Parallel Lives,” the story of two young boys, one Jewish and the other black, growing up in the Delta in the 1950s.
Mr. Dattel lectures widely at universities, museums, and public forums across the country, has sponsored research projects on the art and music of the Mississippi Delta, and produced a documentary on race riots in the north. He is a Berkeley Fellow at Yale University and has served as an advisory board member of CUNY’s Macaulay Honors Program and the B.B. King Museum. Mr. Dattel lives in New York and Connecticut with his wife and their dog, Percy.