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Television Reviews : Shared Lessons From ‘My Past Is My Own’

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There’s nothing childish about today’s “CBS Schoolbreak Special,” called “My Past Is My Own” (airing at 3 p.m. on Channels 2 and 8). And don’t think comedy, even though Whoopi Goldberg has the lead.

Combining fantasy with painful reality, the hourlong film is a surprisingly strong look back at the civil rights struggle of the ‘60s.

Goldberg plays mystical, world-traveling Aunt Moriah, visiting her niece and nephew Kerry and Justin (Allison Dean and Phill Lewis). Using the technique of “hypnotic regression” that she learned in India, Moriah takes the two teens back to the year 1961, to help them understand why their father (Thalmus Rasulala) says, “We have to make good on the struggles of those who came before.”

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Kerry and Justin find themselves in Georgia with a much younger Aunt Moriah, part of a group of young people about to take part in a sit-in at the local whites-only lunch counter.

There are harsh, unpleasant moments--racial slurs and violent epithets. Parents should be ready to discuss them with their children.

Director Helaine Head lets the actors’ faces bring the message home, and Goldberg is ably supported by a fine cast; Kenneth Edwards and Dominic Hoffman, as two of the group, are outstanding.

With simplicity, writer and producer Alan L. Gansberg (Goldberg serves as creative consultant) has created an effective reminder of one history lesson that no one, black or white, should have to relearn.

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