By Ariana Bacle
Updated November 19, 2015 at 04:50 PM EST
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Nicki Minaj paid tribute to the late Maya Angelou at A&E’s Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America, where she read Angelou’s powerful poem “Still I Rise.”

“Still I Rise” was first published in Angelou’s 1978 book of poetry, And Still I Rise. She spoke with author Toni Newman about the poem’s origins in 2012 interview, where she pointed to the human spirit’s ability to “stand up after having been beaten down” as inspiration.

“Sometimes people are second-generation on welfare, but they run down the street as if they have oil wells in their backyards and diamonds on their fingers. It is that — and it’s in everybody,” Angelou said. “All human beings have that incredible spirit to stand up. It makes me high. It intoxicates me when I see it and when I think about it.”

Watch Minaj’s recitation of the poem below.

The special also included a performance from John Legend, who sang a soulful cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in Ferguson, Missouri.