7.1/10
445
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.

Director:

Tim Reid

Writers:

Clifton L. Taulbert (book), Paul W. Cooper (screenplay)
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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Freeman Jr. ... Poppa
Phylicia Rashad ... Ma Ponk
Leon ... Uncle Melvin
Paula Kelly ... Ma Pearl
Salli Richardson-Whitfield ... Miss Alice (as Salli Richardson)
Anna Maria Horsford ... Miss Annie
Bernie Casey ... Mr. Walter
Isaac Hayes ... Preacher Hurn
Ray J ... Cliff (12 Yrs.) (as Willis Norwood Jr.)
Karen Malina White ... Mary
Damon Hines Damon Hines ... Cliff at 16
Iona Morris ... Nila Fontaine
Phill Lewis ... Sammy (19 Yrs.) / Narrator
Taj Mahal ... Mr. Will
Polly Bergen ... 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 January 1996 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$75,675, 28 January 1996

Gross USA:

$2,291,255

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,291,255
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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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Soundtracks

Maybe Tomorrow
Written and Performed by Lionel Cole
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User Reviews

 
The film is fine the way it is.
9 February 2006 | by gravelehSee all my reviews

The author's stated intention was to show the family that nourished him and protected him from the world of hatred and segregation. The film showed just enough of the segregated life to let the viewer know that Cliff needed to be protected from that world and nurtured to overcome the scars that outside world could inflict. I think Taulbert and the movie did a good job of showing how the love of his immediate and extended family could compensate in some way for the hatred and oppression of the outside world. I hate to see the movie berated for not being a documentary of all the hateful excesses of the segregated South when that was not the movie's intent. We have films that are considered classics that are about different parts of World War II, and they don't document all the atrocities of the Holocaust. Not focusing on parts of an era that are not the main point of the film is not "sugarcoating." It's an excellent film about growing up in a loving family and overcoming challenges through the love and support of others. It's fine the way it is.


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