Short Essay (AFRS LIT)

For section 2 of your Midterm Exam, please write a 1-2 page short essay on one of the three topics below. The essay must be written in MLA style. The essay itself must consist of an introduction with a thesis, 3 full body paragraphs and an actual conclusion. When quoting, please provide the source from where you attained the quote. Also, please attach a works cited page to your essay at the end even for the textbook were using. If students have not purchased the book, visit “Owl Purdue MLA” to see how to use MLA style. Outside or secondary sources are not required, but they can be used to write the short essay.

Topic #1

When examining Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, what do we learn about life in Africa, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the Americas? To be more specific, students can explore the customs, traditions and manners of the many different peoples in Africa that Equiano came in to contact with as he is transported from the interior of Africa to the West Coast of Africa. Student’s need to also examine Equiano’s account of the slave ship and the horrible experiences of slavery in the Americas can be explored as well. Students can rely on outside texts to support their claims, just make sure to quote sources used and identify the sources in the works cited page. Another thing to consider is how does Equiano’s narrative help us to understand African and African American history today? In the conclusion, students can also discuss what they took away personally from Equiano’s narrative. Rely on the text and outside sources as evidence to support your claims.

Topic #2

What is the social relevance of Benjamin Banneker’s Letter to Thomas Jefferson in the present day? How does Benjamin Banneker’s Letter resonate with the contemporary mass incarceration of African American and Latino American males in the prison industrial complex system? The thirteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution states that: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” ( Hence, prison was introduced as a substitution for slavery after it was abolished. Also, students need to explore: What was Banneker advocating for in his letter and how do you think he would respond to the corporation owners who control the prison industrial complex in the present day? Use the text and outside sources as evidence to support your claims.


Library of Congress. “13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Nov. 30, 2015. Accessed 16 Oct. 2017.

Topic #3

Observing Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and Frances Watkins Harper’s poems, students are to discuss what life was like for enslaved Black women. What do we learn from their works about slavery and the treatment of Black women within this peculiar institution? More questions to consider for this short essay: How was the Black female body used and controlled by the White plantation owner or enslaver? What was the relationship and power dynamics between the enslaved Black woman and the enslaver White man during slavery? Students can point out how the Black woman has attempted to resist this form of control and sexual oppression. In concluding this short essay, students can talk about how this legacy has transferred into today’s society? For instance, students can point out the exploitation of Black women’s bodies extending into the entertainment industry (modeling for fashion and beauty magazines), and the film industry (movies and television shows) in the present day. Further, students can discuss how Black women have attempted to fight back against these forms of sexual oppression in the entertainment and film industry, as well as how Black women are empowering themselves and others through artistic forms of resistance. Or if students do not want to end their short essay this way, they can be creative in deciding how to make their own conclusions. Rely on the text and outside sources as evidence to support your claims.