North Philadelphia activist turned politician Malcolm Kenyatta says his optimism hasn’t dampened since election night 2018.
The documentary starts in the predawn hours of Nov. 6. A favorite in his race, Kenyatta was poised to become the first openly gay person of color to win a legislative seat in Pennsylvania.
Even on the final hours of the race, Kenyatta is seen discussing the concerns of voters in Philadelphia’s 181st district, including raising the minimum wage and dealing with the city’s eviction crisis.
“I know what it means to like, get an eviction notice,” Kenyatta tells a handful of voters early Tuesday morning.
One instance where Kenyatta’s sexual orientation does come up in the film is when an alleged volunteer for his opponent — former state Sen. Milton Street, who ran as a Republican — is accused of telling voters not to vote for Kenyatta because he’s gay. Homophobic fliers targeting Kenyatta were also distributed in the district during the May primary.
The documentary ends at Kenyatta’s election party, where attendees learn he won his race in a landslide with more than 95 percent of the vote — a historic victory.
“I really felt like it was this opportunity to really have someone who was a phenomenal storyteller see from my perspective the phenomenal district and people that I get to represent and some of the big challenges that they sent me to Harrisburg to try to address,” Kenyatta said of the documentary, directed by his college friend, Tim Harris.
Kenyatta hopes the film will encourage people to get engaged in politics and even run for office after seeing “a poor, black, gay kid from North Philly” win a race in the district he was born and raised in.
Harris said he wanted to help people see that the political landscape isn’t completely “scary or terrible” and there are politicians looking to create change.
“There is some hope out there,” Harris said. “There are young people who are out there that are willing to get involved and kind of put money where their mouth is, as far as not just speaking out, but trying to actually get involved in institutions to make changes that they feel would be helpful for their community.”
While The Atlantic Selects showcased “Going Forward” last December and the film has been screened in other festivals, Monday’s showing at qFLIX Philadelphia was the film’s east coast premiere, said Harris.
qFlix Philadelphia runs through Sunday, but you can watch the documentary on Harris’ Seven Knots Productions website.