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LL Cool J is making history as the first rapper to be saluted at the Kennedy Center Honors, which marks its 40th anniversary this year. Along with LL, other honorees include singer-songwriter Lionel Richie, TV creator Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan and dancer-actress Carmen de Lavallade. The annual celebration was held on Sunday night in Washington, D.C. During the past eight years, President Barack Obama has attended each awards ceremony, but this year, Trump was not in attendance.

There were a lot of memorable moments during the ceremony, with people who attended posted some very inspiring quotes from LL and his speech after receiving his award. He pays homage to all of the kids like him growing up in the inner city, and expressing his beliefs that if everyone got the same opportunity as him, we would be a lot more people make it out. He told the crowd at the Kennedy Center: “The inner city is a maelstrom. I liken it to a bunch of little creatures caught in this whirlpool… every now and then you’ll have someone make it out. You’re looking at what every young black man the inner city could be if they were given the opportunity.”

The Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS Dec. 26 at 9 p.m.

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