On and offstage, performance artist Khalil Abdul Malik Raheem Munir grapples with the conflicting legacies—and names—he has inherited.
One-hour Television Documentary, in development with support from ITVS.
Expected Completion Spring 2018
Inspired by the birth of his son, an African American man traces three generations of men in his family, and their striving for identity amid changes in their South Philadelphia neighborhood. He examines his life on stage through an avant-garde mix of monologue and percussive tap dance known as “hoofing.” We learn that at his own precarious birth he was named Khalil Abdul Malik Raheem Munir. His father passed down his Muslim name, plus the names of three friends who were locked away for life. We follow along the first time Khalil accompanies his dad to visit one of these friends, at the very prison where Khalil Sr. spent many of his son’s formative years.
The canvas for this story is an African American community in South Philly with a tradition of self-reliance and entrepreneurship dating back to the 1920s. It became home to hardy Black migrants from the American South like Khalil’s grandparents. Yet by the early 1980s when he was born, the neighborhood’s social fabric and his family were unraveling.
Now Khalil’s newborn marks the fourth generation since the migration North. What legacy will I pass on to my son? Khalil seeks answers in the journeys of men in his family—from Jim Crow South to South Philly small business empire, incarceration to Islam, and streets to spotlight. To make a name for himself in the world, he must make peace with the elders and ancestors who gave him theirs.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? has been supported by an Artist Fellowship award from the Prince George’s Arts & Humanities Council.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? also received state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.