Once upon a time, Detroit was the Promised Land for African Americans. You could get on the train in Huntsville or Macon bound for Detroit and a year later have a new car, a new house, and a new life, all from working in the auto factories. Courtney Brown and Eddie Jackson grew up in this milieu, spending their childhoods in the city’s Paradise Valley and Black Bottom neighborhoods, at the time one of America’s most thriving Black business and entertainment districts and home to the likes of Joe Louis and Diana Ross. But as they came to adulthood, Detroit’s economy was crumbling-capped off by the 1967 riot that sped up the white flight and dis-investment that fueled the city’s rapid decline.
As Eddie Jackson and Courtney Brown became adults and started families of their own, they found a new opportunity to replace Detroit’s dying car economy. Heroin.
“Motown Mafia” is the story of 2 families and how they rose from Detroit’s old Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods to the top of the city’s drug world.
From 1969 to 1975 Eddie Jackson and Courtney Brown ran one of the largest Heroin rings in the United States. Grossing 10 million a month in today’s dollars, the Jackson/Brown organization is still legendary in the streets of Motor City Detroit. Even Donald Goines, the godfather of “street literature”, paid homage to Eddie Jackson’s crew in his books, turning the real life exploits of the Eddie “The Fat Man” Jackson into shocking fictional form.
“Motown Mafia” is not just the story of the Jackson and Brown families, but the story of Detroit itself. From the nightlife of Paradise Valley to the intricacies of the heroin trade at it’s highest level, the documentary is a must have piece of Detroit and American history.