Kelvin Harrison Jr. Discovers Surprising Details About MLK’s Name in Genius: MLK/X Premiere

Kelvin Harrison

In a captivating revelation at the premiere of National Geographic’s Genius: MLK/X, Kelvin Harrison Jr., the star embodying Martin Luther King Jr., uncovered a surprising detail about the civil rights icon. The actor expressed his disbelief upon learning that Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth name was originally Michael. This revelation emerged from a profound familial moment in 1934 when King Jr.’s father, Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., embarked on a trip to Germany, the birthplace of Protestantism. The elder King decided to rename his son after the renowned German theologian Martin Luther, believing the young King had an extraordinary purpose in life.

During a Q&A session, Harrison shared his astonishment at this discovery, remarking, “I couldn’t believe his name was Michael. Was anybody else shocked by that? I mean, that was pretty cool.” The actor delved into the historical context, explaining how the father-son exchange unfolded, with Rev. King Sr. imparting to his 5-year-old son the significance of his chosen name and the larger purpose it signified. Harrison mused on the impact this revelation must have had on a young King Jr., who, at that age, grappled with understanding concepts like purpose and identity.

The actor reflected on the profound implications of this early-life disclosure, emphasizing its role in shaping King Jr.’s self-awareness. “Now he’s so much more self-aware at such a young age about what everything means,” Harrison explained. The revelation became a pivotal moment in the character’s life, forcing him to contemplate his relationship to everything around him, including his identity and higher purpose.

Genius: MLK/X, the fourth installment in National Geographic’s anthology docu-drama series, promises viewers a comprehensive exploration of the formative years, achievements, philosophical conflicts, and key personal relationships of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The eight-part series aims to provide a nuanced portrayal of these historical figures, with a spotlight on their wives, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz, as formidable equals within the civil rights movement.

Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. and the uncovering of this little-known detail add a layer of complexity and depth to the narrative, making Genius: MLK/X a must-watch for those eager to gain fresh insights into the lives of these influential figures in American history.

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