What’s in a Name?

On and offstage, Khalil Abdul Malik Raheem Munir grapples with three generations of complex legacies—and names—in his South Philadelphia family.


In his imaginative one-man show, theater artist Khalil Munir examines his bittersweet South Philadelphia upbringing. Offstage, he embraces a new life as father and husband, determined to give his baby son a secure foundation. However, contradictions from Khalil’s childhood nip at his peace of mind. He feels compelled to make sense of the divergent paths blazed by the men in his family—from Jim Crow South to South Philadelphia business empire, incarceration to Islam, and streets to spotlight.


The setting for Khalil’s 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 prosperous fleet of small businesses there. Yet by the early 1980s when Khalil was born—weighing one pound four ounces and exposed to drugs in the womb—the neighborhood’s social fabric and his family were unraveling. As a boy, he watched the village surrounding 16th & Federal Streets be ripped apart by an onslaught of economic repression, gun violence and addiction. Trauma and a substantial learning difference threatened to dictate his own life journey.


Now a college graduate, husband, and teaching artist, Khalil began this filming process focused on interrogating his father’s past. WHAT’S IN A NAME? has evolved into a portrait of the extended kinfolk, teachers, strangers (and life-altering youth theater program) that wove themselves into an intricate support system and ushered Khalil through to adulthood.



Hour-long Documentary, In Production
Directed by Malkia K. Lydia
Produced & Written by Khalil A.M.R. Munir and Malkia K. Lydia

Supported in part by Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and
ITVS Diversity Development Fund

Scene from WHAT'S IN A NAME?

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