By: Alyssa Marsico

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – American author and poet Maya Angelou passed away in her sleep today at the age of 86.

Her words will live on and the influence that she had on many lives will never be forgotten.

Candi Castleberry-Singleton, the diversity officer at UPMC, had the privilege of knowing Angelou on a personal level. Castleberry-Singleton spoke with Bill Rehkopf on the KDKA Afternoon News about her memories of Angelou and the first time they met.

“I have always known her in spirit from her amazing work in poetry and being an author. My work in diversion inclusion has given me access to her at a number of conferences where she was the keynote speaker. She also has a charter school in D.C. where we had a couple of opportunities to interact. But I would say it became personal when we nominated her as the inaugural Champion of Dignity and Respect for living the values of dignity and respect, for promoting it and for encouraging others to live in such a way,” Castleberry-Singleton said.

Castleberry-Singleton talked with Bill about knowing Angelou personally and professionally, and that she always carried herself with that sense eloquence and pride.

She says Angelou was a very down-to-earth, real person, who whether she was reading a poem for the President or asking how your family was, she treated everyone with the same dignity and respect.

“I would say that there was also sort of a sense of comfort when you entered her home. On the outside, you see this beautiful yellow house, and on the inside, you just feel warmth. It’s like going to a family member’s home, a grandparent; you know, you walk around and there is pictures of people who you don’t need an explanation of their name and what contributions they have made to the world. Nelson Mandela to many presidents, including Bush and Clinton, autographed books of their biographies, pictures with Gale and Oprah,” Castleberry-Singleton said.

Angelou was so influential to so many people that her legacy may be different depending on who you ask, but Castleberry-Singleton thinks it will be pretty similar across the board.

“That she stood for equity and fairness, she lived it, she promoted it, she encouraged us all to do it,” Castleberry-Singleton said.

She speaks of a quote from Angelou that hangs in her office and will be with her always.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will not forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

You can hear the whole interview here:

You can also listen to the KDKA Afternoon News with Bill Rehkopf weekdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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