‘Genius: MLK/X’ Follows Two Leaders Fighting Against Oppression

Genius: MLK/X (Credit: YouTube/National Geographic)

Genius: MLK/X focuses on the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, as they fight for equal rights in the U.S.

The trailer from National Geographic channel shows the two leaders meeting for the first time.

“We have been oppressed,” says actor Aaron Pierre as Malcolm X.

“We are forced to ride the back of a bus so a white passenger can sit,” notes Kelvin Harrison Jr. as MLK.

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The preview is filled with footage of protests, police officers beating Black people, and a cross burning.

The first two episodes of the limited series premiere Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, on National Geographic at 9/8c for the start of Black History Month. ABC is simulcasting the pilot episode on Feb. 1 at 9/8c

In a press release, Nat Geo said the eight-part series “follows both King and X from their formative years, where they were molded by strong fathers and traumatic injustices, to their rich, parallel stories as they shaped their identities and became the change they wished to see in the world.”

In Sept. 2022, the network announced Louisiana native Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Godfather of Harlem) would play King and British actor Aaron Pierre (The Underground Railroad) would portray Malcolm X.

Additional cast members include Weruche Opia (I May Destroy You) as Coretta Scott King and Jayme Lawson (The Batman) as Betty Shabazz. The series marks one of the last roles for Emmy-winning actor Ron Cephas Jones (This is Us), who died in August at age 66.

Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood are executive producers. Additional executive producers include Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Kristen Zolner. Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon (Power, Mosquito Coast) are showrunners and executive producers on season 4.

The first season of Genius debuted in 2017, and starred Geoffrey Rush as scientist Albert Einstein. Season 2 titled Genius: Picasso starred Antonio Banderas as the Spanish painter. The third season, Genius: Aretha, featured Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin. Courtney B. Vance won an Image Award in 2022 for playing Franklin’s controversial father, C.L. Franklin.

Season 4 marks the first time the show has focused on two individuals.

The series is produced by Imagine Television Studios, 20th Television, and Undisputed Cinema

Attallah Shabazz, eldest daughter of Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, is a consulting producer. The Bythewoods also brought in a group of Black historians, authors and experts to guide the production, Nat Geo said.

Genius: MLK/X premieres Feb. 1 on Nat Geo and streams the next day on Disney+ and Hulu. Two new episodes will debut weekly on all platforms.

Watch the trailer below.