At National Geographic’s content showcase at Hall des Lumières, Nat Geo executive vice president of Scripted and Documentary Films, Carolyn Bernstein, announced that the first two episodes of the next installment of the award-winning GENIUS franchise, GENIUS: MLK/X, will premiere Feb. 1 on National Geographic and stream the next day on Disney+ and Hulu, with two new episodes debuting weekly on all platforms. In a first for the Emmy Award-winning anthology series, the eight-part series will focus on two iconic geniuses – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X – and how their dueling philosophies helped usher America through the Civil Rights Movement.

This season is once again produced by 20th Television with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Television, as well as the company’s president of Television, Kristen Zolner, along with the award-winning duo Reggie Rock Bythewood (“Swagger,” “Shots Fired”) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Woman King,” “Shots Fired”), who are responsible for groundbreaking films and series under their production company Undisputed Cinema. Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon (“Power,” “Mosquito Coast”) are showrunners and executive producers.

As previously announced, the ensemble cast includes Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”) as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Aaron Pierre (“The Underground Railroad”) as Malcolm X, Weruche Opia (“I May Destroy You”) as Coretta Scott King, and Jayme Lawson (“The Batman”) as Betty Shabazz. The series also marks one of the last roles for Emmy-winning actor Ron Cephas Jones (“This is Us”).

With series like GENIUS: MLK/X, Undisputed Cinema aims to tell timely and timeless character-driven stories that focus on the humanity of people of color.

GENIUS: MLK/X follows 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.

The series offers a deeper look into untapped moments in their lives as husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, taking them off the iconic T-shirts to show their humanity. GENIUS: MLK/X brings their wives, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, who are often portrayed as peripheral figures, to the forefront and shows them as formidable equals of the Movement. Episodes will explore the moments between the monumental historical events we’ve come to know and shine a light on how each leader and those closest to them questioned their faith, resolve and decisions as they navigated the rigors of balancing a public persona with a private life. While King and X met only once and often challenged each other’s views, neither would have been as successful without the other.

Ambassador Shabazz (producer, writer, diplomat and eldest daughter of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X Shabazz) served as consulting producer for the series. A think tank of renowned historians and experts served as production consultants prior to the start of the writer’s room to guide the production, including the following (in alphabetical order): Jamal Joseph (“Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention”), Peniel E. Joseph (“The Sword and The Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.,” served as inspiration for the series), Michele Norris (“The Race Card Project”), Dr. Kameelah Rashad (Muslim Wellness Foundation), Dr. Barbara Reynolds (“Jesse Jackson: America’s David,” “No, I Won’t Shut Up: Thirty Years of Telling It Like It Is”), Jeff Stetson (“The Meeting,” served as inspiration for the series, wrote the pilot and served as an executive producer), Jeanne Theoharis (political science professor at City University of New York) and Pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr. (senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church).

GENIUS dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. In 2017, National Geographic premiered the first season of the anthology series, which starred Geoffrey Rush as the brilliant scientist Albert Einstein. GENIUS: EINSTEIN earned 10 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series, as well as Golden Globe(R) and SAG Award nominations for Rush. The follow-up season, GENIUS: PICASSO, starred Antonio Banderas as the titular Spanish painter and matched much of the success of its predecessor, earning seven Emmy nominations – and two wins – as well as Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for Banderas. The third installment, GENIUS: ARETHA, starred Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin and premiered as the most-watched telecast for National Geographic in two years. Erivo received Emmy, Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations for her critically acclaimed role as the Queen of Soul.

For Imagine Television, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Kristen Zolner are executive producers. For Undisputed Cinema, Reggie Rock Bythewood, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Francie Calfo are executive producers. Raphael Jackson Jr. and Damione Macedon are showrunners and executive producers. For Madison Wells, Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane serve as executive producers. For EUE/Sokolow, Sam Sokolow is executive producer. Jeff Stetson (“The Meeting”) penned the pilot and is executive producer. Channing Godfrey Peoples (“Miss Juneteenth”) directed the pilot episode and also served as co-executive producer. Ambassador Shabazz served as a consulting producer.