National Geographic's 'Genius: MLK/X' focuses on the early years of the Civil Rights icons

BySandy Kenyon OTRC logo
Friday, February 2, 2024
'Genius: MLK/X' focuses on the early years of the Civil Rights icons
Sandy Kenyon has more on the new National Geographic docuseries.

NEW YORK -- In honor of Black History Month, comes the first two episodes of a new limited series about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

It's part of the Emmy award-winning "Genius" franchise from National Geographic and shows how the two leaders, with different approaches, shaped the Civil Rights movement.

This fascinating new docu-series focuses on the men behind these mythic figures, and it stresses their similarities rather than their differences.

The decision to cast two young men in the lead roles is crucial in understanding the monumental challenges faced by Malcolm X and Dr. King.

Their legacies are such that it is impossible to imagine the history of the Civil Rights movement without Dr. King and Malcolm X.

But you may be surprised to learn the two leaders met only once at the U.S. Capitol almost 60 years ago in a scene recreated at the start of "MLK/X."

"They are actually two tremendous forces running parallel, and they're running parallel to the same objective to the same end goal. They just have different paths, different routes to what they believe is the most conducive to achieving that," said Aaron Pierre, "Malcolm X."

"Martin was in the inside. He was more strategic. He was like, 'I'm going to get into the offices. I'm going to be more political.' While Malcolm was getting the people passionate," said Kelvin Harrison, Jr., "Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr."

Documentaries have hit the familiar highlights.

"But what happened in the moments before? What happened in the moments preceding that moment?" Pierre said.

Their wives are integral to this version of their story.

"So, we get a deeper investigation into their humanity and their everyday lives," Pierre said.

Both Pierre and Harrison are young.

"I don't know if anyone's ever played Dr. King or Malcolm X under 30," Harrison said.

The idea is to show the men they were before becoming icons.

"That's what's going to bring the truth and humanity back into this story," Harrison said.

"For me that gives me even deeper reverence than I already had," Pierre said.

The cast of National Geographic's new series 'Genius: MLK/X' hosted a special screening Thursday evening in Midtown.

"MLK/X" premieres Thursday on the National Geographic Channel and ABC at 9 p.m. ET.

This will stream starting Friday, February 2 on Disney+ and Hulu. All are owned by the same parent company as ABC 7.