Skip navigation
Share this page

Summer Writing Workshop for Teens


The Power of the Written Word

August 5-8, 2013
10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

This workshop is free but registration is required.


The African American struggle for freedom and equality have been reflected in writing over generations. The written word - poetry, speeches, essays, songs, and short stories- mirrors society, circulates powerful ideas, as well as preserves memory. This workshop for teens will explore the role of written and spoken word from the era of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the era of the March on Washington (1963). Through close reading and analysis, participants will define the rhetoric, syntax and diction of selected works during these pivotal moments in the black experience in America.

Participants will think critically about historical writings as they prepare to craft their own essays that will use various methods of literary critique. Educators and guest speakers will facilitate discussion, teach content, and serve as writing mentors. Each day, teen participants will complete reading assignments in preparation for critical discussion, note taking, and essay writing.

This workshop is designed to assist students in preparing for the PSAT, the SAT, and high school English classes, including AP English.

The workshop will be held on the Smithsonian Institution campus at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC. The workshop is FREE for participants, but registration is required as well as a commitment to attending the entire workshop. All materials and readings will be supplied but students will be responsible for their own lunch.

Sample Reading List (this list is tentative and subject to change):

  • "The Slave Mother" by Francis Ellen Watkins Harper
  • "Birmingham Sunday" by Langston Hughes
  • "An Address to the Slaves of the United States" by Henry Highland Garnet
  • "I Have Dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • "A Change is Going to Come" by Sam Cooke
  • David Walker's Appeal
  • Clotel (excerpts) by William Wells Brown

Click to register now!