Poet Vivian Ayers Allen, mother of Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad, turns 100

Vivian Ayers Allen’s famous daughters and family celebrate the Pulitzer Prize nominee's 100th birthday.

Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Vivian Ayers Allen, mom to Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad, recently turned 100. 

On Thursday, Debbie celebrated her mother, who is also a former literary agent and activist, in a post on Instagram

Vivian Ayers Allen, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Andrew Arthur Allen Jr., Vivian Ayers Allen turns 100, Black writers, Black famous mothers, theGrio.com
Allen family members (from left) Phylicia Rashad, brother Andrew Arthur Allen Jr., mother Vivian Ayers Allen and sister Debbie Allen attend a 2018 program, “A Tale of Two Sisters” honoring Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. More recently, the family celebrated Vivian Ayers Allen as she turned 100. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

“Mom, you are the true Renaissance Woman Lish, Vivian, Condola, Carmen, Gel, Tracey, Natalie, Chloe, Shiloh, Avi, and I aspire to [be],” she captioned the post, which included a carousel of pictures.

The first photo, an intimate shot of Debbie looking lovingly at her mother, is followed by others from a birthday celebration in honor of the writer. The scenes include pictures of Allen’s family coming together and giving speeches, a birthday cake referencing her poem “Hawk,” and a few more of Debbie and her mom.  

“THANK YOU for giving us a path of Light, Love, Fight and Faith to follow,” Debbie added. “We celebrate your 100 Years around the sun!”

According to People, Vivian Ayers Allen was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 for her collection of poems, “Spice of Dawns,” followed by the widely celebrated poem “Hawk” in 1957.

She also studied classical Greek and received honorary doctorates from Bennett College and Wilberforce University. Along with her two famous daughters, Allen is also mother to two sons, Hugh and Andrew Allen Jr.

In a previous interview with NPR, Rashad said she learned a lot about motherhood from her mother Allen. The iconic TV mom also gave insight into what it was like to grow up with such an illustrious mother in real life. 

“As a child, it was amazing to have my mother — and somewhat disconcerting at times, because she wasn’t like other mothers,” Rashad said. “Other mothers didn’t get up at 3 o’clock in the morning to write. My mother did, every day.”

Rashad further described her mother as someone who made appreciating the arts a family value. 

“It was my mother who gave us a real appreciation for art and literature as living things, not just as something hung on the wall or placed on the shelf — an appreciation for ideas and the power of thought and human intention,” Rashad said. “My mother gave us a lot — she gave us everything.”

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