Society & Culture

UGA alumna to discuss book on Atlanta’s Black Mafia Family in campus lecture

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia alumna Mara Shalhoup (ABJ ’98) will discuss her book BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family on Tuesday, Sept.14 at 4 p.m. in Room 101 of the Miller Learning Center.

In an event titled “Black Mafia Family-Politics, Crime, Celebrity, Hip-Hop and Journalism,” Shalhoup will give the inside story of Atlanta’s Black Mafia Family, one of the largest cocaine empires in American history. Shalhoup’s book explores the lives of BMF founders, the Flenory brothers, and their role in the country’s illegal drug trade, as well as their connection to major hip-hop stars.

Shalhoup will discuss both the origins of BMF and how the “bravado of hip-hop feeds criminal culture.”

Her initial research on BMF started in 2004 after a fatal shooting took place at the Velvet Room, a hip-hop club in Midtown Atlanta. She followed police reports and public records for two years, then started working on a three-part series about the family that was featured in Atlanta’s Creative Loafing alternative newsweekly in 2006. The series went on to win several national awards and remains one of the publication’s most widely viewed stories to date.

Shalhoup, then a senior writer at Creative Loafing, was a crime reporter with a strong handle on Atlanta’s hip-hop scene, so she felt very qualified to do research on the subject. Her thorough research and success with the series led her to start writing a book on the topic in 2007. St. Martin’s Press published the book in 2010.

Shalhoup said that she dug deep into the lives of BMF’s gangsters and victims and feels the story’s success came from her ability to use a narrative long-form of writing in Creative Loafing. Through several installments, readers were able to immerse themselves in the story and its characters. “When you go beyond [in research], you learn a lot more about who criminals become,” she noted.

After graduating from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with a newspapers major, Shalhoup started her career as a crime reporter for the Macon Telegraph, and since then has continued to write and receive awards for her work including a Clarion Award, two Livingston Award nominations, several prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and recognition from the Atlanta Press Club and Atlanta Magazine as the city’s journalist of the year. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Creative Loafing magazine.

Shalhoup’s lecture is open to the public and is sponsored by the Grady College and Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to WNEG-TV, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow Grady at

For more information on Shalhoup and BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family, see