Curriculum

Cicely Tyson performs Langston Hughes at Ebony gala

  • Honoree Cicely Tyson addresses the audience at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

    Honoree Cicely Tyson addresses the audience at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Honorees Philip Bailey, left, Ralph Johnson, center, and Verdine White of the band Earth Wind & Fire accept their awards at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

    Honorees Philip Bailey, left, Ralph Johnson, center, and Verdine White of the band Earth Wind & Fire accept their awards at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Musician Nile Rodgers reacts to photographers at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

    Musician Nile Rodgers reacts to photographers at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)  (The Associated Press)

Cicely Tyson performed a Langston Hughes poem as she accepted a lifetime achievement award from Ebony magazine.

Tyson recited "Mother to Son" from memory, telling the audience at the magazine's annual Power 100 gala Thursday that "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair." When she got to the line about "don't you turn back," people cheered.

It was a moving moment in a jubilant evening celebrating the achievements of black leaders in business, science, education and entertainment. Cedric the Entertainer hosted the private ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Actress Regina King, who presented Tyson's award, introduced her as "a national treasure."

The surviving members of Earth, Wind & Fire also received lifetime achievement honors.

Ebony's list of Power 100 honorees appears in the December-January issue.