Clemson Libraries

Phylicia Rashad to speak at Clemson 


Actress Phylicia Rashad will speak at Clemson University’s Brooks Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday, October 10, at 7 p.m. Rashad will give a reading from her mother’s poem, “Hawk,” followed by a conversation moderated by Angela Agard, executive director of the Clemson Area African American Museum.

Tickets for the event are $30 and include an advance copy of “Hawk,” which is being published by Clemson University Press and will be available to the general public October 31. Student tickets are $15, and free student rush tickets with a CUID will be available 30 minutes before the event. The free student rush tickets do not include a copy of the book, but books will be available for purchase at the event. Tickets are available online.

The historic long-form poem “Hawk” by South Carolina native Vivian Ayers is an allegory of freedom made analogous to space flight. The poem was originally self-published by Ayers in 1957 and is now being formally published for the first time by Clemson University Press. It is being published in paperback and as a limited-edition hardcover facsimile. Both versions of the book are available to pre-order online at a special discounted rate, which expires October 31.

Rashad is an award-winning actress, director and academic, perhaps best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992. She has appeared in numerous Broadway plays, television shows and films, including the recent “Creed” trilogy. A graduate of Howard University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she was appointed dean of of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University in 2021.

Rashad’s mother, Vivian Ayers, who just celebrated her 100th birthday, is a native of Chester, S.C. She is a poet, a cultural activist and an American classicist. A 1939 graduate of the historic Brainerd Institute in Chester, she attended Barber-Scotia College and Benedict College. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from Bennett College and Wilberforce University.

Ayers is also the author of a poetry collection titled “Spice of Dawns.”  More than 20 years after its first printing, “Hawk” earned praise from NASA, with enlarged reproductions of the poem  exhibited at the  Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

This event is hosted by Clemson University Press, Clemson Libraries and the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts.

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