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‘Genius: MLK/X’ Cast and Character Guide: Who’s Who in the Civil Rights Drama

National Geographic kicked off Black History Month with the Season 4 premiere of its “Genius” anthology series, titled “Genius: MLK/X,” which provides a new perspective on the life, work and cultural impact of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

“Genius: MLK/X” will have a two-episode debut on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic, with episodes airing weekly through Feb. 22.

Per the official synopsis of the show, it will follow “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.”

Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macdeon serve as showrunners and executive producers, alongside executive producers Reggie Rock Bythewood, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Coming in to play Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Aaron Pierre, but here’s an overview of the main cast and the real figures they play.

Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Martin Luther King Jr. in "Genius: MLK/X" (National Geographic)
Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Martin Luther King Jr. in “Genius: MLK/X” (National Geographic, Getty Images)

Martin Luther King Jr. (Kelvin Harrison Jr.)

Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars as minister, activist, political philosopher and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He is likely the most prominent civil rights activist, as he organized a movement to end racial discrimination and obtain equal rights for Black Americans from the late 1940s to the late 1960s.

As for Harrison, the actor has been seen in several films, including “Chevalier,” “Waves,” “Monster” and Luce.

Aaron Pierre as Malcolm X in "Genius: MLK/X" (National Geographic)
Aaron Pierre as Malcolm X in “Genius: MLK/X” (National Geographic, Getty Images)

Malcolm X (Aaron Pierre)

Aaron Pierre plays minister and human rights activist Malcolm X. He is best known for being a leader within the Nation of Islam and for promoting Black empowerment. Like Martin Luther King Jr., he is regarded as one of the most famous activist in the Civil Rights Movement.

Pierre’s acting resume includes “Foe,” “Old,” “Brother” and more.

Weruche Opia as Coretta Scott King in "Genius: MLK/X" (National Geographic)
Weruche Opia as Coretta Scott King in “Genius: MLK/X” (National Geographic, Getty Images)

Coretta Scott King (Weruche Opia)

Weruche Opia comes in to play the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King. Like her husband, Coretta was activist, serving as a leader in the civil rights movement as well as the Women’s Movement during the 1960s. She’s referred to as the “First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement.

Opia previously starred in “I May Destroy You,” “Black Mirror,” “Our House,” “Sliced” and more.

Jayme Lawson as Betty Shabazz in "Genius: MLK/X" (National Geographic)
Jayme Lawson as Betty Shabazz in “Genius: MLK/X” (National Geographic)

Jayme Lawson as Betty Shabazz

Starring as the wife of Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, is actress Jayme Lawson. Shabazz was an educator and also a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. The Detroit native also worked as a nurse in New York, where she met her husband.

Prior to “Genius: MLK/X,” Lawson acted in TV shows and films, including “Till,” “Farewell Amor,” “The Woman King” and more.

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