The title of the film, "Lead the Parade," comes from a 1968 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "There is deep down within all of us an instinct. It's a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first." Dr. King uses this analogy to argue that love is a more powerful force in the world than fear, that nurturing and caring relationships are the antidote to the crippling stress of growing up in poverty.
Drawing heavily from interviews with neuroscientists, social workers and others, "Lead the Parade" explores the impact that a child’s early environment has on his or her cognitive, social and emotional development. That growing up in poverty, without nurturing, positive relationships, impacts more than just a child's day-to-day life. It makes it nearly impossible to get a good education, build a personal support network or grow into a prosperous, productive adult.
Debuting on Martin Luther King Day, "Lead the Parade" argues that making public education effective for all children is more than just good policy, it is a civil rights issue.