On and offstage, performance artist Khalil Abdul Malik Raheem Munir grapples with the conflicting legacies—and names—he has inherited.

Khalil Munir in South Philly

One-hour Television Documentary, in development with support from Independent Television Service (ITVS). In production through 2018.

In an inventive one-man show, performance artist Khalil Abdul Malik Raheem Munir examines his South Philadelphia upbringing. Offstage, he embraces a new life as father and husband. However, contradictions from his childhood still nip at his peace. What scars linger from growing up as a black boy named after four incarcerated men, including dad? For the first time, Khalil joins his father on a visit to one of the other men whose name he carries, at the very prison where Khalil Sr. spent many of his son’s formative years.

Khalil Munir Sr and Jr

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, who owned a fleet of small businesses. Yet by the early 1980s when he was born, the neighborhood’s social fabric and his family were unraveling.

Khalil and infant son

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 his father, his grandfather, and the men of their generations. We follow along, from Jim Crow South to South Philadelphia business empire, incarceration to Islam, and streets to spotlight. We are privy to revealing moments between fathers and sons, and among Black men who became brothers on the rocky path to self-determination.

Produced by Malkia K. Lydia and Khalil A. M. R. Munir. Directed by Malkia K. Lydia.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? has been supported by an Artist Fellowship award from the Prince George’s Arts & Humanities Council.

PA Council on the Arts logo

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.