What's in a Name?

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

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Funding Initiative
Diversity Development Fund
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Producer/Director

Malkia Lydia

Malkia K. Lydia is a documentary filmmaker who seeks to connect people, stories and authentic power. Most recently, she freelanced as a Producer/Writer of short documentaries for the newly unveiled Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. Malkia is a magnet for performance/media mashups, including music videos, two TV Show more specials about Philadelphia jazz and now, WHAT’S IN A NAME?. She has also worked on the advocacy and engagement end of media, including with a community television station, the AFI Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival, and the Center for Media and Social Impact. In 2014, she was awarded a CPB Fellowship to attend the International Public Television Summit in Helsinki. Malkia’s work has been recognized by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Prince George’s Arts & Humanities Council, The Leeway Foundation and Humanities DC. This is her first long form film. Show less

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Producer

Khalil A. M. R. Munir

Khalil A. M. R. Munir is a noted dancer, actor, writer and teaching artist. He began his acting training at the age of nine, and at sixteen, he added dance to his repertoire. He has served on the faculty at Philadelphia’s historic Freedom Theatre and at Temple University. Khalil specializes in “hoofing,” a percussive urban African American tap dance form. He Show more conceived and produced the stage production One Pound, Four Ounces. It combines dance, tap percussion and monologue to convey a raw, yet inspirational series of vignettes from Khalil’s complicated childhood. Through his art, Khalil defiantly transmutes victimhood to victory and condemnation to edification. Show less

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The Film

Inspired by the birth of his son, an African American man traces three generations of men in his family—from Jim Crow South to South Philly small business empire, incarceration to Islam, and streets to spotlight. 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 when his father handed down his Muslim name, plus the names of three friends who were locked away for life. We follow along when Khalil first 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 Philadelphia 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 was unraveling.

Now Khalil’s newborn makes four generations since the family’s migration North. What will he pass on to his son? Khalil is compelled to clarify his identity, encountering ancestors and elders whose names and legacies he carries. Throughout, we are privy to revealing moments among fathers and sons, and among Black men who have become brothers on the rocky path to self-determination.

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