Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI WRITERS: Clifton Taulbert


Clifton Taulbert Clifton Taulbert, Photo courtesy of Tom Fields

Major Works

  • The Last Train North (1995)
  • Watching Our Crops Come In (1997)
  • Eight Habits of the Heart: The Timeless Values That Build Strong Communities- Within Our Homes and Our Lives (1997)
  • Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored (1989)
  • Little Cliff and the Porch People (1999) Earl B. Lewis (Illustrator)
  • The Era of Segregation (Video)

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Clifton Taulbert: A Biography
By Leslie Ervin (SHS)

When Clifton Taulbert was young,  he lived with his grandmother and grandfather; but when his grandmother got sick, he had to leave and live with Ma Ponk, his aunt.  Taulbert's mother (Mary Taulbert) was a teacher at Peru School in Glen Allan, Mississippi.  Taulbert,  at the age of five, was not old enough to start school.  His mother had nowhere else to take him, so he had tPhoto by Tom Fields of Tulsa, Oklahomao go to school with her and sit in the back of the old plantation church which served as the schoolhouse. Taulbert wa given permission to start school early because he wasn't six,  and they had to be six to start school.

Clifton Taulbert graduated valedictorian from O'Bannon High School in Greenville, Mississippi.  He is now an internationally-acclaimed speaker, author, and filmmaker, who served in a classified position with the 89th Presidential Wing of the United States Air Force in Washington D.C., and he attended the University of Maine and the University Maryland.  Taulbert received his B.A. in History and Sociology from Oral Roberts University and is a graduate of the Southwest Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University.  He later obtained an associate degree in health care management from Tulsa Community College.

He was the winner of the NAACP's 27th Image Award for Literary Work: NonFiction for his book When We Were Colored.  According to Beth Pinsher of the Dallas Morning News,  the director of the film made from this book had difficulty getting the movie  released because Once When We Were ColoredUpon a Time ... When We Were Colored is not a political film. It's a nostalgic coming-of-age tale about a boy learning to deal with the segregation imposed on his small Mississippi town in the years following World War II. His book The Last Train North was the winner of the Mississippi Library Association Award and is the sequel to the best-selling When We Were Colored.  It traces the author's journey during the sixties from Mississippi to racially integrated Saint Louis. In his newest book, which is for children, the memorable characters from Eight Habits of the Heart, When We Were Colored, and his other popular works appear in his first picture book called Little Cliff and the Porch People.   Little Cliff and the Porch People by Clifton TaulbertIn the book, Little Cliff's great-grandmother needs a pound of butter to make her  candied sweet potatoes, and she sends Cliff to get it for her.

Taulbert has been  banker, a health care administrator, and now is the head of  a marketing company.  He  is the President of the Freemount Marketing Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he also serves on many civic boards.  He is also, of course,  a bestselling author. He lives with his wife (Barbara Ann) and their two children (Marshall Danzy and Anne Kathryn). 

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A Review of Eight Habits of the Heart Leslie Ervin (SHS)
by Leslie Ervin (SHS)

"Eight Habits of the Heart--habits that I sought to describe for the 1995 graduating class of the North Shore County Day School in Chicago, when they invited me to speak at their commencement. This book grew out of that speech and my rich remembering." (Taulbert)

Eight Habits of the Heart is about how a young boy (Clifton Taulbert) and his community, that built a strong and loving community as they shared joy and sadness together in Mississippi.  In this book Taulbert lived with his grandparents until his grandmother got sick, and he had to leave Glen Allan, Mississippi,  to go to school in Greenville, Mississippi,  and live with Ma Ponk (his aunt).  In both houses he experienced the "eight habits of the heart."

Eight Habits of the Heart by Clifton TaulbertThis book is well written and describes everything in detail, so the reader gets a full understanding. This book is helpful and should be used throughout communities in today's life. I liked this book and recommend it to everyone. I also think that Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored is a good book to read. 

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Related Websites

Review of Taulbert's book The Last Train North.Clifton Taulbert, Photo courtesy of Tom Fields of Oklahoma

Reviews of Once Upon a Time from Amazon readers.

Reviews of Eight Habits of the Heart.

Reviews of Little Cliff and the Porch People.

Film critic Bob Mondello reviews Clifton Taulbert's film memoir, Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored in Real Audio. The drama chronicles Taulbert's coming of age in the segregated South from PRN's All Things Considered. Feb. 2, 1996.

Review of movie based on Taulbert's book Once Upon a Time...When we Were Colored, which was published with little fanfare by a small house in his resident city of Tulsa in 1989. It received national attention after being favorably reviewed by The New York Times and eventually made the best-seller list. . The whimsical narrative is laced with fond anecdotes of a childhood filled with the things a childhood is supposed to be filled with: fishing trips, the first kiss with a girl, honest work and a close circle of friends and family. In Taulbert's view, it was an upbringing that ensured future success in overcoming deprivation and the racism that lay beyond the confines of his small town. This is a movie review but discusses book and has quotes from  Taulbert as well.
 

Clifton Taulbert and Jack White of MSUClifton Taulbert and Jack White of MSU at the Mississippi Council for the Humanities celebration in Jackson, Mississippi, in September, 1997.


 
 
 
 

 

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Bibliography

Taulbert, Clifton. Eight Habits of the Heart. New York:  Penguin Books, USA. Inc., 1997. Clifton Taulbert

Taulbert, Clifton. Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored. New York: Penguin Books, USA, Inc., 1989.

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