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Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored: Tie in Edition
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Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored: Tie in Edition

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  260 ratings  ·  31 reviews
"A bittersweet story about love, community, and family—and the difference they made in the life of one young man."—The New York Times Book Review. ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Feb 18, 2020 marked it as sony-or-android  ·  review of another edition
I'm bothered by the teacher who rated this two stars and won't use this in their classroom because it's not about segregation and injustice per se. They complain it's more personal. Well, isn't that the best way to reach students? Make them feel a sympathy, and then an empathy, with real ppl, rather than just shove abstract history at them? I know that I learned a heck of a lot from reading Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years when I was young.

And so far as complaining about diff
Sarah T.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have ever started and finished in the same day. The writing style is so conversational, it just flows so well. Taulbert is a great story teller!

From his introduction, I thought it was interesting how he wanted to write down his childhood stories to show his children that pre-integration, there were good times and good memories to be had. I thought it was interesting how he said that there were lessons and values that he thinks the African American community is starting
Jan 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Here is a soulful history of men and women who tried to make sense of a world that was frustrating in its change and stillness. Taulbert pays homage to his African American roots that run deep, and reminds the reader that although evil and unnecessary, segregation did create a unique African American culture that was lost after integration. This is a celebration of Americans who worked in the fields and raised children on dreams. With jocular honesty, deserved pride, and subtle brilliance, Taulb ...more
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Personal Response: I really liked this short story. I really liked this short story because, the author kind of explains that African American people matter too. I liked that because it shows that everyone should be treated the same no matter the skin color. I personally like African Americans so I really enjoyed this short story.
Summary: This short story was about and African American. This book was about how Uncle Cleve had grown up, how he got through life, and about what he did growing up a
Jennifer Conrad
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had higher hopes for this book. I picked it up, thinking that I might be able to use pieces of it when I teach The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 in my Children's Lit classes. Unfortunately, I don't think many of my students would stay interested as they read.

The bulk of the book is made up of snippets of Taulbert's memories of growing up in Glen Allen, MS. The book deals more with community, family, and education than it does with segregation in the south. I was expecting stories that explici
I read this for school. Since I like almost nothing that I read for school (including book reports which I get to pick out for myself), I didn't expect much. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a really interesting look at how life was from the 1950's from someone who actually lived it, instead of a history book only showing the important events. But that's all it was. I feel like the author expected us to find this entertaining as well, and at that, it utterly failed. The event ...more
Rob Rogers
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This rambling, evocative memoir covers the time when the author was growing up in a small Mississippi Delta town in the 1950s. Although he doesn't flinch from describing the difficulties and indignities of living under Jim Crow, Taulbert is also nostalgic about a time when his neighborhood seemed to be one great extended family, when everyone seemed to be looking out for each other and when economic opportunities were limited, but assured. It's essential reading for anyone who wants to understan ...more
Deven Black
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Clifton Taulbert aims to give a realistic picture of what life was like for rural Blacks during the late 1940s to mid1960s by telling the story of his childhood and adolescence. While I have no doubt that the book accurately reflects Mr. Taulbert's memories, his writing is so tedious that I was ultimately disappointed and disinterested. Whether describing the hard job of picking cotton or the excitement of a traveling minstrel show, the language has the same languid and moderate tone. ...more
Josephine Burks
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Not a bad little book. I enjoyed reading more about the community and sense of comradeship amongst the family of the author. I wasn't expecting such a warm book, which is a good thing as I'm sure the author experienced so many negative occurrences growing up black in the south during Jim Crow and segregation; so it was refreshing and comforting to read stories of a happy childhood despite the era it was set in. ...more
May 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Sweet telling of a "colored" boy's childhood growing up in a small Southern town surrounded by family, community & love. The reality of racial segregation is woven into warm tales of the simple pleasures & life lessons gleamed from his hard working, mostly unschooled neighbors in rural Glen Allen, Mississippi. A short, poignant read brimming with promise. ...more
I picked up this book because of the title. On my birth certificate it states that I am colored. I was not however born in Mississippi, my husband was. He can relate to picking cotton and being in a small town.
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading Clifton Taulbert’s life story because I could identify with so many of his experiences. Although living in Indiana (up North) meant no written Jim Crowe signs we had Sunset Laws...don’t be in this town or neighborhood once the sun goes down.
Jan 29, 2011 rated it liked it
A sweet little memoir of boyhood told in vignettes. Paints a vivid picture of a small-town agricultural community, focusing on interracial relations.
This was our book club selection -- it was an interesting memoir about growing up in the black community of a small Mississippi town in the 1950's. ...more
Marilyn Sue Michel
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in 2006, and it gave me nightmares. The descriptions are very good, and the pictures are haunting. This is a good book for anyone who wants to know more about 1950s Mississippi.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Decent sentimental read. No overarching story or anything, but a touching memoire by a friend's cousin. ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Book 38: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored. By Clifton L. Taulbert.

This is a story about life in the segregated South through the eyes of a "colored" child. From picking cotton to minstrel shows at the fairground to applying for a white boy's job, Taulbert covers the 1950s through an innocent bird's-eye view.

Favorite passages:

I would watch in complete silence as the long blade of the razor, expertly handled, removed all signs of hair from his face and head. Afterwards, Poppa would rub
Cathie Knight
History that should not be forgotten. If you don't understand a black person being nonchalant about the U.S. Flag read this, there is a story that will help you understand. Understanding people of a different culture is inexcusable in today's world of accessibility. If you don't understand it is because you don't want to. Read this book! It won't even take up much of your time...... ...more
Christina Laflamme
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing perspective and a precious insight into being black in southern USA not so long ago at all. An important and engaging read.
Lydia Nixon
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. Having had the chance to meet Clifton Tolbert and have him discuss the book, his writing process, and the stories he included only made me love it more! Knowing that there are actual people associated with his writing gives it a personal element that I love!
Jim Layman
Nov 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This short volume recounts life for a black child in rural Mississippi before the integration of the 1960s. The author's reminiscence is poignant but also full of explanatory gaps. Still a worthwhile read ...more
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is about Glen Allen, Mississippi...the town that my mom's father is from. One of my family even appears in there! :o) ...more
Aug 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
A memoir which surprised me--extremely compelling
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: movies, biography
It is a quick read that many readers will enjoy. This is a nice story which shows the African American culture through the eyes of child.
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great book, I could really visualize each character in this book as someone in my family. It was real to me.
Lea Miller
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good short read, and it is always cool when you have actually met the author. There is also a movie.
Apr 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
a must-read for people in America
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Liked it... it was an average kind of good
Dee Gordon
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
interesting read. I was in Virginia a few years later in the 60's. ...more
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