“Genius: MLK/X” Explores How Two Visionaries Rose to Pioneer the Civil Rights Movement

The show offers a split-screen portrayal of King and X, following the men from their formative years to their rich, parallel stories as they shape their identities and become the change they wish to see in the world.

“Genius: MLK/X” Explores How Two Visionaries Rose to Pioneer the Civil Rights Movement
The series begins with King and X on Capitol Hill in 1964, famously the only time the two men ever met.

The latest season of the Emmy-winning anthology show "Genius" (2017–) spotlights one the great Muslim leaders of the 20th century — Malcolm X. "Genius: MLK/X" dramatizes the very different paths Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X took to becoming the most significant and recognizable figures of the civil rights movement. The show offers a split-screen portrayal of King and X, following the men from their formative years to their rich, parallel stories as they shape their identities and become the change they wish to see in the world.

“Genius” was developed by National Geographic and created by Kenneth Biller, Noah Pink and Suzan-Lori Parks. Each season of the show typically consists of 10 episodes that focus on the life and work of a different historical figure — previous installments have focused on Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and Aretha Franklin — who is renowned for their genius and impact on society. The show has been critically acclaimed for its performances and attention to historical detail as it aims to provide viewers with an in-depth look at the inner lives of iconic historical figures and their enduring legacies.

“Genius: MLK/X” features Aaron Pierre as Malcolm X, with Kelvin Harrison Jr. co-starring as Martin Luther King Jr. The show covers key moments in the history of the civil rights movement, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and X's rift with Elijah Muhammad, while also exploring the personal lives of King and X.

The show was inspired by Peniel E. Joseph’s nonfiction book “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.” and the play “The Meeting” by Jeff Stetson.

The actors' performances have been praised, especially Aaron Pierre's portrayal of Malcolm X. The Hollywood Reporter review of the show said that, “Pierre gives the stronger of the two lead performances, conveying Malcolm X’s rectitude in every bit of his physicality and embodying his persuasiveness.”

Check out the summary of “Genius: MLK/X” from Disney+:

In a first for the franchise, the new season of the Emmy Award-winning anthology series will focus on two iconic geniuses: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Malcolm X (Aaron Pierre). “Genius: MLK/X” explores the formative years, where they were molded by strong fathers and traumatic injustices, and their rich, parallel stories as they shaped their identities and became the change they wished to see in the world. The docu-drama series offers an intimate look into their complex lives as husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, taking them off the iconic T-shirts to show their humanity. With their formidable wives, Coretta Scott King (Weruche Opia) and Betty Shabazz (Jayme Lawson), leading by their sides, King and X are two visionaries who ultimately rose to pioneer a movement.

"Genius: MLK/X" premiered Feb. 1 on National Geographic. New episodes air on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on National Geographic and become available the next day on Disney+ and Hulu.

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