Once Upon A Time . . . When We Were Colored

A warm and likable chronicle (1995) about growing up black in Mississippi between 1946 and 1962, shortly before the end of jim crow laws, adapted from a memoir by Clifton Taulbert and directed by first-timer Tim Reid. Even as a southerner and near contemporary of Taulbert, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of every detail here, but on the whole this feels right (even the colors employed in the decor smack of the 50s), and it certainly puts to shame the egregious nonsense of Mississippi Burning. The film has its hokey moments but also a good many quiet virtues and strengths, which is perhaps why it was rejected by the trendy Sundance festival: there’s hardly an ounce of hyperbole in it. The excellent cast includes Al Freeman Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Isaac Hayes, Taj Mahal, Polly Bergen, and Richard Roundtree. PG, 115 min. (JR)

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