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Gina Prince-Bythewood & Reggie Rock Bythewood Talk New Series ‘Genius: MLK/X’ | Watch

It is Black History Month!

One way to celebrate is to watch “Genius: MLK/X” on the National Geographic. The Genius series takes an in-depth look into the lives of influential and historical figures. What better way to start Black History Month than with two of the most iconic people in Black American history?

“Genius MLK/X” is an eight-episode miniseries that will show Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X in a way we rarely see. Most depictions of King in film or television mostly focus on his significant role in the civil rights movement – with moments of his home life sprinkled in. But in this series, we see Dr. King in his youth. And viewers will get to witness more of his upbringing. 

Teenage Martin, played by Jayln Hall, in Top stories National Geographic’s ‘Genius: MLK/X’ 2024

Most of us who weren’t able to experience Dr. King in real-time have this immortalized view of him because of his strength and power. Which took away from his humanity. The same can be said for Malcolm X as well. Even though we were able to see more of his backstory in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X.” We still didn’t see the vulnerability of these two men as children and young men. 

As the series goes on and gets deeper into their work in the movement. They don’t leave behind the aspect of these two being husbands and fathers. Going through everyday life while being at the forefront of the push for change. 

Malcolm X (Aaron Pierre) and Betty Shabazz (Jayme Lawson) with their children in National Geographic’s ‘Genius: MLK/X’ 2024

We spoke with the executive producers (Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood) about why it was important to have “Genius: MLK/X” focus on more than these two men being leaders.

“When you don’t just look at them as icons but human beings and human beings that were challenged, challenged with even mental health or depression or overcoming loss. It makes it more accessible to the audience,” said Reggie Rock Bythewood. 

For the first time, I saw Martin as a man, not just an icon. There is a scene in the series where Coretta, played by Weruche Opia, tells King he shouldn’t own a gun. Having a weapon shows he’s scared. And King, played by Kelvin Harris Jr., says to her with a fearful tremble in his voice, “I am scared!”

Yes, this is a dramatization of the events of their lives. But it’s believable for him to have been fearful of the consequences of his work. And rightfully so.

Young Martin, played by Kelvin Harris Jr, attending college in National Geographic’s ‘Genius: MLK/X’ 2024

When it comes to X we see him coping with life after prison and trying to navigate through mental health issues he may have dealt with. In turn for me although seeing these men in this light brings them humanity. It also makes them even more iconic in my eyes. To push through personal issues and traumas because you know your mission is to help your people be released from the shackles of oppression. That is beyond commendable.  

It’s also important to know the producers pitched the idea of telling these two stories together. The show was originally only about King.

“We felt you don’t get to have Martin without Malcolm. They’re opposite sides of the same coin. We wanted to dispel this idea and belief that you have to choose between Malcolm and Martin,” said Bythewood.

Along with telling these stories together, it’s important that they are still being told to this day. “We’re absolutely in an age where people are literally trying to rewrite our history, erase our history. So, these narratives have to keep being told,” said Gina Prince-Bythewood. 

As you watch “Genius: MLK/X” you will see the parallels between two men with the same agenda, different approaches, same respect.  

“Genius: MLK/X” is now streaming on National Geographic.  

MORE NEWS AT EURWEB: ‘Genius: MLK/X’ Stars Share Their Experience Portraying Coretta and Betty | WATCH

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