BY: John “Hennry” Harris
“It takes a village to raise a child” – African proverb
Clifton L. Taulbert is an honored and acclaimed writer whose heartfelt, reflective stories took a young man from the cotton fields of the small, segregated Mississippi Delta community of Glen Allen, to become the CEO of his own consulting company that helps develop leadership around the world.
Growing up during segregation in the rural south, he was raised by his extended family who protected him and encouraged him to further his education. The nearest all-Black high school was in Greenville, MS, a 100-mile round trip that he made daily with his great-aunt pushing him the entire way. Taulbert graduated from O’Bannon High School in 1963 as the valedictorian.
His start into adulthood was meager, just as his beginnings in Glen Allen. He moved to St. Louis and started as a dish washer, later, a civil rights activist and a bank teller before joining the United States Air Force. After achieving the rank of sergeant, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University and graduate degree from Southern Methodist University.
In 1989, Taulbert published his first book Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored. He writes about his life experiences from his childhood in Mississippi during segregation. Once Upon A Time would later be made into a movie in 1995 featuring an A-List cast of veteran Black actors including Phylicia Rashad, Richard Roundtree, Isaac Hayes and Al Freeman, Jr.
The second volume of Taulbert’s memoirs, The Last Train North, published in 1992, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is scheduled to become a film. Taulbert went on to write 14 books, including three children’s books, all influenced by the voices of his Glen Allen family and friends, the people to whom he credits his learned life lessons and core values.
Those core values are the solid foundation of his 1997 book, Eight Habits of the Heart: Embracing the Values That Build Strong Communities. Taulbert recounts eight lessons he learned while growing up in Glen Allen, lessons that he calls “front porch wisdom” of the people in his community. He claims that these eight habits are “timeless and universal” and are not “held captive by race, gender or geography.
Taulbert’s sense of community and love for people is what laid the foundation for his success as a business consultant leveraging community as an asset in the workplace. He founded the Building Community Institute in Tulsa, OK, which focuses on human capital development and organizational effectiveness. His philosophies helped to synergize the workplaces of companies like Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, Baxter Healthcare, Pacific Coast Gas, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and K-12 and post-secondary academic leadership around the world.
Calvin L. Taulbert is still a decorated speaker and business consultant who carries the strong sense of community learned from porches surrounded by cotton fields, to a literary giant and organizer of people. He never looked at where he was from as an obstacle, embracing the same community that embraced him and allowed that love to spearhead his journey into life.
Here is a list of Clifton L. Taulbert’s literary works if you would like to learn more about Taulbert as an author and his philosophy on community and business:
- Who Owns The Ice House? Eight Life Lessons From An Unlikely Entrepreneur (2010)
- Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored (1989)
- The Last Train North (1992)
- Watching Our Crops Come In (1997)
- Eight Habits of the Heart: Embracing the Values that Build Strong Communities (1997)
- The Journey Home: A Father’s Gift to His Son (2002)
- When Little Becomes Much (2005)
- Children’s Books
- Little Cliff and the Porch People (1999)
- Little Cliff and the First Day of School (2001)
- Little Cliff and the Cold Place (2002)