The Untold Stories of MLK and Malcolm X: A Deep Dive into Nat Geo's GENIUS Series
Updated: Feb 1
GENIUS: MLK/X, directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples, delves into the lives of two iconic figures, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played by Kevin Harrison Jr.) and Malcolm X (portrayed by Aaron Pierre). While many are familiar with their roles in the civil rights movement, few know about their early lives or the women who stood beside them. The series offers an intimate exploration of these visionaries' journeys and how they evolved into the catalysts for change. The series was inspired by the play "The Meeting," written by Jeff Stetson. Stetson stated, "We need heroes, and they were heroes. I wrote this play because this country has the tendency to pit one leader against the other. They saw Martin as the dreamer, who saw freedom and justice through non-violence, and they saw Malcolm as a revolutionary, who saw freedom by any means necessary." He continues, "No dreamer who wants justice doesn't understand that it comes with a revolution, and no revolutionary can be a revolutionary without understanding the vision of a dreamer."
The first episode provides a glimpse into the formative years of MLK and Malcolm X, illustrating how their upbringing and the experiences that shaped them. The series humanizes these leaders, portraying them as more than just symbols. It also sheds light on the pivotal roles of their wives, Coretta Scott King (played by Weruche Opia) and Betty Shabazz (played by Jayme Lawson). As the episodes progress, the series intertwines their compelling stories, showcasing their individual strengths and how they advanced a shared cause through different approaches.
Ultimately, the series is not merely a docu-drama; it serves as a tribute to these two historical figures, revealing their humanity and struggles. This unique portrayal offers viewers a fresh perspective, presenting MLK and Malcolm X as real individuals rather than distant icons, making it a significant addition to the franchise and a compelling experience for the audience.
Be sure to watch GENIUS: MLK/X on Nat Geo on February 1st. You can also catch it on Disney Plus and Hulu on February 2nd.
Check out the trailer below: