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Michael J. Pagan,
Mahree Bok lives on a farm in South Africa. Her father is a policeman who cannot hide his joy when activist Steve Biko is caught by the South African authorities. Piper Dellums is the daughter of a US congressman from California and who lives in a nice home in Washington DC. When Mahree is chosen to spend a semester at the Dellums' house, she doesn't expect that her host family would be black. Nor do her hosts suspect that she is not a black South African. Written by
Dragomir R. Radev <email@example.com>
Mahree Bok's name in real life was Carrie. See more »
The film is set in 1977, but the vehicle used by Carl Lumbly's character in the opening scenes is a first-generation (1981-1989) Lincoln Town Car. See more »
I have a friend, a new friend, from South Africa. And this friend recently told me about a unique bird found in her country. And what is remarkable about this bird is not that it nests, for all birds nest, but that this particular bird nests in a community all unrelated to each other and all of different colors. This community of different colors and different birds has one common goal: to care for each other. We are a world of people, not ethnic groups, not races, and not different ...
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When I was watching The Color Of Friendship the only question I had was how a film like this was made at the Disney Studio. The answer is that it wasn't though it was distributed and exhibited by the folks at the Magic Kingdom. It's a film of rare insight and social significance, unlike the usual stuff you get from Disney.
In 1977 Congressman Ron Dellums through an incredible bit of bureaucratic snafuing got to host an African child as part of an exchange program. But our color blind applications don't take into account that he could and did wind up with a young girl from the apartheid Union Of South Africa. Her arrival proves to be a learning experience all around except sadly for her South African peers.
The Color Of Friendship works as well as it does because of the casting and chemistry of Shadia Simmons as Pieper Dellums and Lindsey Haun as Mahree Bok. What I liked most about The Color Of Friendship is that these two young ladies acted like real kids instead of Hollywood kids you see on so many shows.
The other thing about The Color Of Friendship is the hope it shows. We older folks live with so many built in prejudices and feelings and the hope of the world is that the younger generations as they come see past more and more of them. In another film about South Africa, a black character says to Donald Sutherland that it's all going to work out in the end because your son will not believe their lies. As we see here, young Ms. Haun does question the racist assumptions that the apartheid South Africa was built on.
Carl Lumbly, best known for playing Detective Petrie on Cagney&Lacey, plays Ron Dellums who is now Mayor of Oakland, California. Lumbly is fine in the part although if you look at pictures of Ron Dellums, he could be Morgan Freeman's twin brother. But I guess the producers could not afford Morgan Freeman. Penny Johnson plays Roscoe Dellums who sadly in real life got divorced from Ron Dellums many years after 1977 when this film is set. Her character is from the Phylicia Rashad school of mothers, that's not a put down.
Filmed in 2000 The Color Of Friendship turned out happily to be be a harbinger of things to come in South Africa. Don't miss this film if the Disney Channel ever broadcasts it again.
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