Compiled By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 17, 2022: The founder of theAfrican Blood Brotherhood, one of the one of the seminal groups of African American associations in the 1917s, was born in the Caribbean.
Cyril Valentine Briggs was born on May 28, 1888, in Nevis and emigrated to the United States in July 1905 to join his mother, who had already emigrated here. Briggs’ first American writing job came in 1912 at the Amsterdam News.
In 1917, Briggs founded the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), with a goal to stop lynching and racial discrimination, and ensure voting and civil rights for African Americans in the South. He also called for black self-determination. The group initially opposed American involvement in the First World War.
In 1918, the ABB started a magazine called The Crusader, which supported the Socialist Party of America’s platform and helped expose lynchings in the South and discrimination in the North.
Briggs hoped that President Woodrow Wilson would support voting rights for African Americans in the South after the service of veterans in the war. Southern Democratic congressmen opposed any changes. Disillusioned by Socialist and progressive efforts, Briggs joined the Communist Party of America in 1921 and called for control by African-American workers of the means of production which employed them, whether in industry or in agriculture.
Briggs became a leading exponent of racial separatism. Briggs saw American White-Black racism as a form of “hatred of the unlike” that draws “its virulence from the firm conviction in the white man’s mind of the inequality of races – the belief that there are superior and inferior races and that the former are marked with a white skin and the latter with dark skin and that only the former are capable and virtuous and therefore alone fit to vote, rule and inherit the earth.”
Briggs proposed a “new solution” then emerging, in which the African American had come to the realization that “the salvation of his race and an honorable solution of the American Race Problem call for action and decision in preference to the twaddling, dreaming, and indecision of ‘leaders.’”
Briggs would remain an active member of the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) throughout the decade of the 1920s.] In 1925 the African Blood Brotherhood was dissolved and replaced with a new organizational entity, the American Negro Labor Congress. Briggs was tapped as the new national secretary of the new Communist Party-sponsored organization.
He would remain an influential figure in the party’s hierarchy until the advent of the moderate Popular Front. Briggs would ultimately be expelled from the CPUSA at the end of the 1930s, accused of maintaining a “Negro nationalist way of thinking” in defiance of the new integrationist party line.
Briggs died on October 18, 1966, in Los Angeles, California.