In his memoir, Miles in the Life, Jabari Hayes recounts growing up surrounded by crack cocaine in a Brooklyn public housing project, becoming a high school track star in St. Louis, and then starting his own valet business in Atlanta after graduating from an HBCU there. But origins have a powerful pull, and Hayes ended up using his business to traffic cocaine across the country for the Black Mafia Family, said to be the largest African American drug organization until federal prosecution brought it down in the mid-2000s. (If you bought a Fabolous, Young Jeezy, or other BMF Entertainment album before then, you helped it launder money.) 

Director Shaun Mathis chronicles all of that and the life Hayes found on the other side in his documentary of the same name, which is screening virtually for one week in the new BLK Docs series. Founded by the Durham studio Speller Street Films and the Brooklyn series The Luminal Theater, in partnership with the film crowdfunding site Seed&Spark, the series aims to “build an authentic documentary film culture within the African American community” through monthly screenings, classes, and webinars. It began last month with Wilmington on Fire, Christopher Everett’s documentary about the white supremacist massacre and coup in the North Carolina beach town in 1898. 

Miles in the Life is available to watch at the time of your choosing July 30–August 6. Tickets are $5, and there are also free live events such as a Q and A with Hayes and Mathis at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, July 30. Visit to learn more and watch.

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