7.2/10
417
7 user 9 critic

Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored (1995)

A narrator tells the story of his childhood years in a tightly knit Afro-American community in the deep south under racial segregation.

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(book), (screenplay)
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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Poppa
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Ma Ponk
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Uncle Melvin
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Ma Pearl
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Miss Alice (as Salli Richardson)
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Miss Annie
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Mr. Walter
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Preacher Hurn
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Cliff (12 Yrs.) (as Willis Norwood Jr.)
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Mary
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Cliff at 16
Iona Morris ...
Nila Fontaine
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Sammy (19 Yrs.) / Narrator
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Mr. Will
...
Miss Maybry
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Storyline

This film relates the story of a tightly connected Afro-American community informally called Colored Town where the inhabitants live and depend on each other in a world where racist oppression is everywhere, as told by a boy called Cliff who spent his childhood there. Despite this, we see the life of the community in all its joys and sorrows, of those that live there while others decide to leave for a better life north. For those remaining, things come to a serious situation when one prominent businessman is being muscled out by a white competitor using racist intimidation. In response, the community must make the decision of whether to submit meekly like they always have, or finally fight for their rights. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements including mild violence, language, and sensuality | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 January 1996 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Gross:

$3,375,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

7 years prior to this film, Bernie Casey (Mr. Walter) And Isaac Hayes (Preacher Hurn) acted together in the Keenen Ivory Wayans comedy, "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." See more »

Quotes

narrator: Everyone clung to the idea that if you worked hard, you get a piece of the American dream.
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Connections

Referenced in Phat Girlz (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Maybe Tomorrow
Written and Performed by Lionel Cole
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User Reviews

The Value of Balance
22 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I am very fond of this film, and I have had the opportunity to hear Clifton Taulbert speak in person. I think the point of the film is that while black people who had to endure much during the 100 years that followed the civil war they still managed to create many supportive communities. In addition there were good role models for young people like Clifton Taulbert. As a response to the undeniable oppression, the black community of Glen Allen, Mississippi, bonded and supported one another. It did, in fact, mean that their lives were made less miserable. They experienced joy and fellowship as well as oppression. They refused to take on victim-hood as an identity. At the same time, there was a vigorous challenge to the status quo. I don't think the movie is too sentimental, or inaccurate.

I have shown this movie to students many times and it has never failed to move them to a real concern for the condition of minorities. It reaches these students on an emotional level, and it gets them interested in learning more about the issue of human rights. That is no small feat.


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