The title's literal meaning is "English Assignment," because at the time the poem was written, assignments in English classes were often called "themes." In a figurative sense, the author turns his assignment into a message of empowerment for colored people.
A black student who lives in Harlem, an area of New York City, in America, is told by his teacher to write an English assignment. This assignment turns out to cover how the student believes different truths than the rest of the people of America - he believes that people of color and white people are ultimately the same.
The author uses phrases including "So will my page be colored that I write?" and "Being me, it will not be white. / But it will be / a part of you, instructor. / You are white - / yet a part of me as I am a part of you." These phrases convey a message of empowerment to people of color.
The author keeps a sincere tone throughout the poem, and writes the poem with a passionate attitude towards the reader.
The poem starts with the instructions from the teacher, and shifts to the actual assignment, which the author writes about his own life and situation in Harlem.
The overall theme of the poem is a message that all people, regardless of skin color, are still humans to begin with and should be treated equally as a result.