'Genius: MLK/X': First Look at Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Exclusive)

ET has an exclusive first-look at Harrison as MLK giving his iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech in the National Geographic series.

On this day when the nation and those throughout the world honor Dr. Martin Luther King for spearheading the Civil Rights Movement, ET has a first look at Kelvin Harrison Jr.'s portraying the transformative figure in National Geographic's highly-anticipated new series, Genius: MLK/X.

The first look features Harrison, 29, preaching to a new congregation. In the exclusive clip, MLK shelves his prepared sermon for a more declarative approach about equality. He tells the congregation that he is switching gears and instead will preach about "the subject of who we are."

"And who we are is God's glory personified," he says as the congregation roars. "When I look at you, I see we are mothers and fathers. We are sisters and brothers. Men and women. But if we let others tell it, we are slaves. We are second class. We are agitators banging at the door of segregation asking to be let into the house of equality."

He continues, "Well, in this moment I say we stop asking and we start demanding. In this moment we say equality is not a dirty word whispered in the valley of despair, but screamed from the peaks of prosperity."

The Walt Disney Company

ET can also exclusively reveal the first images of Harrison as MLK alongside his wife, Coretta Scott King, who is played by Weruche Opia (I May Destroy You). There's also Harrison as MLK delivering his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., an historic speech heard by more than 250,000 in attendance at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.

The Walt Disney Company

That famous speech, by the way, was completely improvised. ET spoke with Oscar winner Rita Moreno back in June 2020, and she recalled being merely 15 feet away from Dr. King delivering a speech that's as American as apple pie. She recalled how, in the middle of his prepared speech, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson prompted Dr. King to "tell them about your dream." She remembers seeing him "put away his speech, which was written, and started to talk about, 'I have a dream.'"

"I still can't talk about it without getting these giant goosebumps," Moreno told ET. "It was so exciting and I remember looking [behind] me, where the pool is at the Washington Monument, and there were thousands and thousands of people. Most of them in overalls, who had walked to this event. Some of whom had taken buses. It was just the most."

The first-look clip and images come just days after the first trailer dropped on Friday. In the trailer, Harrison's MLK and Aaron Pierre's Malcolm X meet for the first and only time in 1964, when they attended a Senate debate on Capitol Hill.

"We meet at last," Malcolm X says in the trailer as he extends his hand.

"Innocent Black men are in prison," Malcolm X says in another scene, which is followed by MLK saying, "How many more have to be slain for America to say, 'Enough is enough,'?"

Genius: MLK/X premieres Feb. 1 on National Geographic, with episodes streaming the next day on Disney+ and Hulu.



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