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Home:  >News & Events   >News Archives   >2003

Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Clifton Taulbert reads on University of Mississippi campus Feb. 17

Feb. 13, 2003

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services


Clifton Taulbert

OXFORD, Miss. — Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and lecturer Clifton L. Taulbert, acclaimed for his best seller Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, reads from his work Feb. 17 at the University of Mississippi.

Free and open to the public, the 7 p.m. reading is scheduled in Old Chemistry auditorium. From 5 to 6 p.m., Square Books in downtown Oxford hosts a book signing for the author. His visit is sponsored by the John and Rene Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English.

Taulbert, who grew up in the Mississippi Delta community of Glen Allan, writes and lectures about growing up in the segregated South. As president and founder of Building Community Institute in Tulsa, Okla., he speaks throughout the world on the timeless and universal ideas he encountered in his Delta experience.

In Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, he describes his childhood spent in the “colored section” of the small rural town from 1946 to 1962. Although racial injustice was ever present, it isn’t the focus of his story, shaped from 150 short stories written over 10 years.

“The whole idea of Southern memoirs has been whitewashed,” said Ethel Young-Minor, a UM assistant professor of English and Afro-American Studies. “Taulbert is able to go back and create a culturally-informed memoir.

“The book has moved people because it talks about the South in a way we’re not used to. He critiques the system and records the past without fighting with it.”

His most recent book is The Journey Home: A Father’s Gift to His Son, a tender story about a father determined to help his affluent son understand some of the past’s forgotten values.

In addition to Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, which was made into a feature film in 1996, Taulbert wrote Pulitzer-nominated The Last Train North, Watching Our Crops Come In, Eight Habits of the Heart and three children’s books illustrated by E.B. Lewis—Little Cliff and the Porch People, Little Cliff’s First Day of School and Little Cliff and the Cold Place.

An inspiring motivational speaker, Taulbert has delivered his concepts on the role of community to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and Harvard University, as well as to corporate clients such as Lockheed Martin, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Ford-Mazda Auto Alliance.

He has received numerous writing awards, including the 27th annual NAACP Image Award for Literature. He was one of the first African-American writers to win the Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Nonfiction and was named one of America’s outstanding black entrepreneurs by Time magazine.

He received a graduate degree from Southwest Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University and a bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University.

“Today I wear a label called ‘successful,’ but I would not be so if not for them, the leaders of my ‘colored’ community in Glen Allan, Miss., in the 1950s,” Taulbert wrote in an article for USA Weekend magazine. “Because they cared, shared their lives and trusted each other, they showed me the future. I never want to forget the basic ideals they practiced.”

For more information or assistance related to a disability, call the Department of English at 662-915-7439. This event is held in conjunction with “Open Doors,” the University of Mississippi’s yearlong observance of the 40th anniversary of its integration. View a full schedule on the Internet at

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