And the Children Shall Lead Movie Poster Image

And the Children Shall Lead



A sensitive, powerful drama on race issues.
  • Review Date: April 12, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 58 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The "n-word" is used once, though the movie does not advocate its use. A number of scenes depict discrimination and oppression, the film's main themes. Depicting small-town race relations in 1964 Mississippi, this film effectively captures both the established bonds and barriers between blacks and whites of all ages.


Offscreen, a father gives his daughters a switching with a willow branch. Two white twins beat up a black boy their own age.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie provides a great way to open discussion with children about racial issues, even children as young as 5. This film is both ideal for older kids and direct enough to hold teens' attention and important enough to be good family viewing.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

It's 1964 in sleepy Catesville, Miss. Jenny, the daughter of the white sheriff, is good friends with Rachel, granddaughter of Miss Annie, the sheriff's black housekeeper. As a house painter, Rachel's father, William (Danny Glover), buys his supplies from the father of white twins Floyd and Lloyd, the constant companions of Jenny, Rachel, and Rachel's cousin and sister. Despite these close ties, all of them, like the people around them, routinely observe the longstanding rules of racial segregation -- until the civil rights movement of the mid-60s begins to touch them. When a busload of civil rights workers, led by Glenn (LeVar Burton), comes to town to register voters, everyone -- including the children -- has to decide where they stand on the pressing issue of civil rights.

Is it any good?


What makes AND THE CHILDREN SHALL LEAD so special is its careful selection of day-to-day incidents in the lives of a handful of Southerners, both black and white. Combine that with a convincing script, unaffected child actors, and a supporting ensemble of skilled stars, and the result is an excellent film. The shocking era of "Whites Only" restrooms and drinking fountains becomes immediate as characters face real dilemmas. Rachel and her sister Paulette, in pressing need, find an "Out of Order" sign blocking their use of a "Colored" restroom. This simple scene may rattle youngsters today, but will register sharply with their sense of justice. The effect multiplies when the twins Lloyd and Floyd turn on their black friend.

Direct and sensitive, The Children lets us know the people of Catesville and helps us understand what each feels as the stable structure of their world, however inequitable, begins to change. If the mild ending is a bit of a letdown, it nevertheless rings true, as does so much of this picture, by personalizing a portrait of America's arduous struggles to break free of racism.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what they do if faced with the same situation confronted by the kids in the movie. How is their school and are their friendships different today than they were in the 1960s? How arethings still unfair? What examples can you think of that you see today that show race still affects how people are treated?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 11, 1988
DVD release date:January 27, 1998
Cast:Danny Glover, Denise Nicholas, LeVar Burton
Director:Michael Pressman
Character strengths:Compassion, Courage, Empathy
Run time:58 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of And the Children Shall Lead was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Educator and Parent Written bywilsonth May 19, 2016


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?