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Once upon a Time...When We Were Colored Reviews

This sentimental recreation of African-American experience in the segregated South makes for passable family entertainment, but it's neither bitter nor moving enough to leave much of an impression. Born in a Mississippi cotton field to an unmarried sharecropper, young Clifton (Charles Earl "Spud" Taylor Jr.) is sent to live with his loving grandpa (Al Freeman Jr.) and later, his equally loving aunt (Phylicia Rashad). Based on Clifton Taulbert's memoirs of a 1940s boyhood, the film scores some memorable points about Jim Crow's effect on a young mind -- Clifton is taught to read in order to recognize "White Only" signs -- but it's too discursive and episodic for a feature-length movie. The material is better suited to a TV miniseries, and the talents of director Tim Reid, who helmed the much-praised sitcom Frank's Place, seem better suited to the small screen.