Black Brothers, Inc.: The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia's Black Mafia (Milo, 2005/07)

In June 2005, a prominent and politically influential Muslim cleric, Imam Shamsud-din Ali, became the latest person convicted in a massive federal corruption probe in Philadelphia. As the revelations emanating from the probe continue, a critically acclaimed author and leading authority on organized crime exposes for the very first time the disturbing contemporary and historical ties between Ali, the city’s notorious Black Mafia, and the sweeping federal probe.

The Black Mafia was one of the bloodiest crime syndicates in modern US history. From its roots in Philadelphia’s ghettos in the 1960’s, it grew from a rabble of street toughs to a disciplined, ruthless organization based on fear and intimidation with links across the Eastern Seaboard. Known in its "legitimate" guise as Black Brothers, Inc., it held regular meetings, appointed investigators, treasurers and enforcers, and controlled drug dealing, loan-sharking, numbers rackets, armed robbery and extortion.

Its ferocious crews of gunmen grew around burly founder Sam Christian, the most feared man on Philly’s streets. They developed close ties with the influential Nation of Islam and soon were executing rivals, extorting bookies connected to the city’s powerful Cosa Nostra crew, and cowing local gangs. The Black Mafia was responsible for over forty killings, the most chilling being the 1973 massacre of two adults and five children in Washington, D.C. Despite the arrests that followed, they continued their rampage, exploiting their ties to prominent lawyers and civil rights leaders. A heavy round of convictions and sentences in the 1980’s shattered their strength – only for the crack-dealing Junior Black Mafia to emerge in their wake.

Researched with scores of interviews and unique access to informant logs, witness statements, wiretaps and secret FBI files, BLACK BROTHERS, INC. is the most detailed account ever of an African-American organized crime mob, and a landmark investigation into the modern urban underworld.


“Griffin did extensive research and backs up his claims carefully...If you're a crime buff, a history lover, or if you just want something fascinating to read, it's a book you can't refuse."
Terri Schlichenmeyer, syndicated reviewer and host of

“A gripping story…Griffin richly documents the Black Mafia’s organization, outreach and over-the-top badness.”
Joseph N. DiStefano, Philadelphia Inquirer

“A great, sprawling epic.”
Duane Swierczynski, editor-in-chief, Philadelphia City Paper

"Sean Patrick Griffin has given us a really extensive look into the Black Mafia...and has produced one of best pieces of research on the underworld in this city that I have ever seen…The level of research, really copious research, I haven't seen anything on organized crime - of any kind - that is as well-documented as this."
Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News columnist and host of "The Exchange" on Philadelphia’s leading African-American radio station, 1340AM WHAT

"The book is incredible…The documentation is so thorough, it’s unbelievable…We know about corruption, but this is beyond corruption. This is just amazing stuff."
Dom Giordano, radio host on Philly’s leading talk radio station 1210AM WPHT

Black Brothers, Inc. is fascinating.”
Bernie McCain, considered the “Dean of Black Talk Radio” and host of “The Dean’s Talkroom” on the pre-eminent national African-American talk radio station, XM Radio’s The Power

"Sean Patrick Griffin has delivered a richly detailed narrative of the murderous history of the city's first African-American crime syndicate."
Kitty Caparella, Philadelphia Daily News

“I couldn’t put this book down.”
Keith Murphy, veteran award-winning broadcaster and host of the “Urban Journal” on XM Radio’s The Power

"Using the federal corruption probe as prologue and epilogue, Griffin presents a confident chronicle of Philly's Black Mafia, the decades-long collaboration among drug dealers, Muslim clerics and local politicians…Griffin disassembles the racist calumny about black crime: that it is violence born of convenience. Griffin punctures that myth with a salient detail that shows a criminal outfit highly organized: At early Black Mafia meetings, minutes were taken."
Sasha Issenberg, Philadelphia Magazine

"Sean Patrick Griffin, in surreal detail, lays out the twist and turns, the political and religious associations...Black Brothers Inc…a guaranteed chilling read."
The Melting Pot, Philadelphia

“Sean Patrick Griffin’s book on the Philly Black Mafia is searing, unrelenting and ruthlessly precise.”
Henry Schipper, producer and director for Black Entertainment Television’s American Gangster series