‘The Workers Party, Marcus Garvey and the Negro’ by Cyril V. Briggs from The Crusader. Vol. 6 No. 1. February, 1922.
UNDER the heading of “THE RACE PROBLEM,” the program of newly organized Workers Party of America has the following commendable plank on the Negro:
“The Negro Workers in America are exploited and oppressed more ruthlessly than any other group. The history of the” Southern Negro is the history of a brutal terror of persecution, rape and murder. The formal abolition of slavery made it possible for the northern capitalists to penetrate the south and to bring cheap Negro labor north. This was, however, detrimental to the interests of southern capitalists, and they have sought by every means to maintain the enslavement of the Negro. It is in order to subjugate him and break his spirit that secret murder societies such as the Ku Klux Klan have been established.
“Because of the anti-Negro policies of organized labor the Negro has despaired of aid from that source, and has either been driven into the camp of labor’s enemies, or been compelled to develop purely racial organizations which seek purely racial aims. The Workers Party will support the Negroes in their struggle for liberation, and will help them in their fight for economic, political and social equality. It will point out to them that the interests of the Negro workers are identical with those of the white. It will seek to end the policy of discrimination followed by organized labor. Its task will be to destroy altogether the barrier of race prejudice that has been used to keep apart the black and white workers, and weld them into a solid union of revolutionary forces for the overthrow of their common enemy.”
The fact that the A.B.B. saw fit to send fraternal delegates to the convention at which the new party was organized appears to have seriously affected the nervous system of Marcus Garvey, who, believing that at last he had “something on the A.B.B.,” sent out a heated college yell of a news release, claiming that the A.B.B. was “unearthed and shown up in its true light” as “colored radicals” and Bolsheviki.
In pursuance of its policies of encouraging and utilizing all divisions within the white race and of uniting against our oppressors all elements of the discontented of their own and other races, the African Blood Brotherhood sent fraternal delegates to said convention. Sure, we sent delegates! And what of it?
It is not worth while to have the support of a party which embodies the very essence of the Negro Liberation Struggle in its program and which has eleven daily newspapers in the various foreign languages spoken in this country, twenty-eight weeklies and a chain of monthlies? A party with a membership of over 50,000 in the United States, among them the pick of the white workers, and having powerful international connections? A party that possesses several million dollars worth of property in printing plants, buildings, etc., etc., and having fraternal organizations in affiliation which count a membership of over 200,000? Is the support of such an organization to be sneezed at? Or, should we rather seek, per Garvey’s idiotic plan, the support of kings and governments that have been for centuries engaged in the domination, rape and slaughter of the Negro race? Which is the more intelligent plan? A fruitful alliance with those interests are identical with ours or a barren alliance with those whose interests lie in our exploitation and oppression and are, therefore, diametrically opposed to our interests? Surely, only prostitutes who were out to milk the Negro financially and who, therefore, have no thought of doing real effective liberation work could make the servile suggestion that the Negro subordinate his interests to the interests of bis proven enemies. Only a Garvey could sink so low as to lick the boots of the traditional enemies and enslavers of the Negro race by sending telegrams to the crowned beads of Europe, and otherwise fawning upon them, for recognition of his “leadership.”
Marcus Garvey, upon learning that the A.B.B. sent fraternal delegates to the convention of the Workers Party of America, did his best to capitalize the anti-radical sentiment of the white press and set the “best” white people about our ears. How well he succeeded can be learned by the fact that the papers, with one exception, ignored his “red” release against the A.B.B., and that exception, The New York Evening Globe, gave him a sort of publicity he did not court.
ALLIANCES (Excerpt from the A.B.B. Program).
There can be only one soft of alliance with other people, and that is an alliance to fight our enemies, in which case our allies must have the same purpose as we have. Our allies may be actual or potential, just as our enemies may be actual or potential. The small oppressed nation who are struggling against the capitalist exploiters and oppressors must be considered as actual allies. The class-conscious white workers who have spoken out in favor of African liberation and have shown a willingness to back with action their expressed sentiments must also be considered as actual allies and their friendship further cultivated. The non-class conscious white workers who have not yet realized that all workers, regardless of race or color, have a common interest, must be considered as only potential allies at present and everything possible done to awaken their class-consciousness toward the end of obtaining their co-operation in our struggle. The revolutionary element which is undermining the imperialist powers that oppress us must be given every encouragement by Negroes who really seek liberation. This element is led and represented by the Third lnternationale which has its sections in all countries. We should immediately establish contact with the Third lnternationale and its millions of followers in all countries of the world. To pledge loyalty to the Rags of our murderers and oppressors. to speak about alliances with the servants and representatives of our enemies, to prate about first hearing our proven enemies before endorsing our proven friends is nothing less than cowardice and the blackest treason to the Negro race and our sacred cause of liberation.
The Crusader was published in New York City between 1918 and 1922, becoming the paper of the The African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption and the earliest Black Communist publication in the US. Founded by Cyril V Briggs, who had arrived to the city from the Caribbean in 1905, at first it was the journal of the Hamitic League of the World, a Pan-African group led by George Well Parker. Increasingly in sympathy with the Russian Revolution and new Communist International, in October 1919 the paper announced the African Blood Brotherhood and its adherence to Marxism. In June 1921, The Crusader officially became the journal of the ABB and the Black publication of the US Communist movement. Antipathy with Marcus Garvey’s movement led the Communist Party, at the insistence of Claude McKay, to withdraw support and Its last issue was in January, 1922. The African Blood Brotherhood with dissolve into the Workers Party of America with many activists joining the American Negro Labor Congress in 1925.
PDF of full Issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/crusader/v6n01-jan-feb-1922-crusader-r.pdf