PURVIS, Miss. (AP) — A school writing assignment on slavery for an 8th grade history class in Mississippi has sparked outrage in the community.

A screenshot showing an assignment titled “Slave Letter Writing Activity” has been shared hundreds of times, garnering reactions ranging from concern to anger. Lamar County School District Superintendent Dr. Steven Hampton confirmed the activity was assigned to students during a class at Purvis Middle School on Wednesday.

The assignment asks students to “Pretend like you are a slave working on a Mississippi plantation” and “Write a letter to your family back in Africa or in another American state describing your life.”

Hampton said the assignment was part of a presentation discussing the “atrocities and negatives of slavery.”

The purpose of the assignment “was to show our students just how horrible slavery was and to gain empathy for what it was like to be a slave,” he said.

“We do not discriminate against race. We want to be sensitive to what happened in the past,” Hampton said.

Purvis Middle School administrators have addressed the teacher and there will be further discussion with the teacher from administrators at the district level, Hampton said.