Dr. Maya Angelou Receives Inaugural Dignity & Respect Champion Award
-- Dr. Maya Angelou -- celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist -- is the 2011 Dignity & Respect Champion. The honor was awarded by Candi Castleberry-Singleton, founder and chair of the Dignity & Respect Campaign, a not-for-profit initiative that promotes inclusion by treating people with dignity and respect.
"Maya Angelou has demonstrated unshakable faith and a commitment to the values of family, community, and culture throughout her life. Whether as a cable car conductor, a waitress and cook, a dancer with the Alvin Ailey company, an editor of an English Language paper in Egypt, a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, or a Presidential Medal of Arts winner, Dr. Angelou values all members of the human family," said Ms. Castleberry-Singleton. "She exemplifies the characteristics of a Dignity & Respect Champion."
Ms. Castleberry-Singleton presented the Dignity & Respect Champion award to Dr. Angelou at her home in North Carolina. During their time together, Dr. Angelou reflected on four themes:
- The meaning of dignity and respect -- "When we have dignity and respect we join the communities of human beings and they join us. We are one. Human beings are more alike than we are unalike."
- Living with dignity and respect -- "If you're not respected you can't relax. So if you can't relax, you can't learn. And if you can't learn you don't know anything. You not only don't know who anyone else is, you can't know who you are."
- The human condition -- "You must speak up! Speak up for your soul's sake. For your spirit's sake."
- Courage -- "Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can be anything erratically. You can be kind, fair, true, generous, just, merciful, all of those things every now and again. But to be that thing consistently, you have to have courage."
Videos of Dr. Angelou's comments to Ms. Castleberry-Singleton are available at http://www.dignityandrespect.org.
The Dignity & Respect Champion designation is a program of the Dignity & Respect Campaign, a national, grassroots initiative created in 2009 to encourage and promote the message of inclusion, beginning with the core belief that everyone deserves dignity and respect. This awareness and advocacy effort promotes positive behavioral change in individuals, communities, schools, and organizations. The Campaign extended from an internal effort at UPMC, a Pittsburgh-based organization, to a community-wide initiative in 2009; it broadened beyond the greater Pittsburgh area in Fall 2011 with the celebration of October as Dignity & Respect Month.
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