National Geographic has announced that the first two episodes of Genius: MLK/X will premiere Feb. 1 on National Geographic. The episodes will be available for streaming the next day on Disney+ and Hulu with two episodes debuting weekly on all platforms.
The season will focus on the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and how their philosophies both ran counter to each other and supported each other during the Civil Rights Movement. National Geographic released a first-look video featuring Kelvin Harrison Jr., who recently starred in the biopic Chevalier, as King and The Underground Railroad‘s Aaron Pierre as Malcolm X. Also featured in the video are Weruche Opia as Coretta Scott King, Jayme Lawson as Betty Shabazz and Ron Cepahs Jones in one of his last roles.
According to the official description:
GENIUS: MLK/X 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. Influenced as children by different upbringings and experiences: King by the Jim Crow-era South and life in the church before finding his voice at Morehouse and Boston University, and X growing up under the constant, deadly violence of the Klan and falling into a life of vice and incarceration where he was introduced to the Nation of Islam and found his voice. The two visionaries ultimately rose to pioneer a movement.
The series offers a deeper look into untapped moments in their lives as husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, taking them off the iconic T-shirts to show their humanity. GENIUS: MLK/X brings their wives, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, who are often portrayed as peripheral figures, to the forefront and shows them as formidable equals of the Movement. Episodes will explore the moments between the monumental historical events we’ve come to know and shine a light on how each leader and those closest to them questioned their faith, resolve and decisions as they navigated the rigors of balancing a public persona with a private life. While King and X met only once and often challenged each other’s views, neither would have been as successful without the other.
Ambassador Shabazz, the eldest daughter of Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, served as consulting producer along with a think tank of historians and experts who served as production consultants. The think tank in particular–comprised of Jamal Joseph, Peniel E. Joseph, Michele Norris, Dr. Kameelah Rashad, Dr. Barbara Reynolds, Jeanne Theoharis, Jeff Stetson, and Pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr.–helped guide the writers’ room before a word was ever put down to paper.
Reggie Rock Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood are producing via Undisputed Cinema, with Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon serving as executive producers and showrunners. Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane also executive produce for Madison Wells. Sam Sokolow also executive produces via EUE/Sokolow. Jeff Stetson wrote the pilot and also executive produces, while Miss Juneteenth director Channing Godfrey Peoples directed the pilot and co-executive produces.