MIA : Library : Cyril Briggs


Cyril Briggs

1888 – 1966

Cyril Valentine Briggs was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, a part of the West Indies, on May 28, 1888. His mother, Mary M. Huggins, was of African-Caribbean descent while his father, Louis E. Briggs, was a white plantation overseer. Briggs was of extremely light complexion but always identified himself as a Black man.

As a youth Briggs enjoyed the benefit of a quality colonial education and furthered his studies by working as an assistant in the library of a local clergyman. It was here that he was first exposed to political works critical of imperialism. He soon became a writer and journalist himself, securing employment with the St. Kitts Daily Express and the St. Christopher Advertiser. Although awarded a scholarship to study journalism at the university level, in July 1905 Briggs instead chose to emigrate to the United States to join his mother, who had already living there.

Briggs joined the staff of the Amsterdam News, New York City’s oldest Black newspaper in 1912. Inspired by Black nationalist and Pan-African ideals, in September 1918 Briggs launched a monthly publication called The Crusader. Initially, the magazine’s credo was “Africa for the Africans” and a call for a “renaissance of Negro power and culture throughout the world.”

In 1919, Briggs began to move leftward and The Crusader took on a more militant, anti-imperialist orientation, linking colonization and racial oppression to capitalism. In October of that year, The Crusader announced the formation of the African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption (ABB), a propaganda organization built on the model of the secret society. The group’s socialist orientation soon led it to Marxism and communism. In June 1921, The Crusader became the official journal of the ABB, presenting communism as the solution to racial and economic inequality.

Briggs himself joined the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) in 1921. In 1925 the African Blood Brotherhood was dissolved and replaced with a new organizational entity, the American Negro Labor Congress. Briggs became its national secretary. He was subsequently named to the CPUSA’s Central Committee in 1929. Together with other Black Communists he worked to make Harlem a Party stronghold, particularly through mass agitation and the publication of The Harlem Liberator newspaper, which he edited.

In 1933, however, differences over Party policy and practice in Harlem induced the national leadership to send James W. Ford into Harlem with a mandate to remold the local party organization. Briggs and his allies opposed what they perceived to be an initiative to moderate the Harlem party’s militant campaigns and struggle against white chauvinism and Black moderates. As a result, Briggs was removed as editor of The Harlem Liberator and delegated to work as a member of the Daily Worker staff.

At the Daily Worker Briggs wrote on a wide variety of topics, with special attention to African American issues, including the Scottsboro case. However, with the advent of the Popular Front line he found himself out of favor in the Party and ceased to write for the Daily Worker by 1935. At the end of the 1930s or early 1940s, he was expelled from the CPUSA, accused of maintaining a “Negro nationalist way of thinking” in defiance of the increasingly Browderite Party line on Afro-American issues.

Briggs was allowed to rejoin the CPUSA in 1948, following Browder’s defeat and expulsion. He would remain active in the organization for the rest of his life, participating in its west coast activities. Briggs died on October 18, 1966, in Los Angeles, California.

See also:

Racial and Radical: Cyril V. Briggs, The Crusader Magazine, and the African Blood Brotherhood, 1918-1922 by Robert A. Hill

The Crusader magazine (1918-1922)



The American Race Problem


Basutoland, The Hope of the Black Race


Dr. Du Bois Misrepresents Negrodom

Americans?, Vol. I, No. 10, June 1919

The Wolves and the Dogs. A Fable for the Wise, Vol. I, No. 10, June 1919

The Capital and the Chicago Race Riots

Why Lynching Persists, The Crusader, Vol. II, No. 1, September 1919

Savers of Souls and Sellers of Men, The Crusader, Vol. II, No. 2, October 1919

Andrew Carnegie: Fiend or Angel?, The Crusader, Vol. II, No. 2, October 1919

Congress, the Lusk Committee and the Radical Leaders

The Government and the Negro


Bolshevism's Menace" To Whom and to What?

A Paramount Chief for the Negro Race

"At the Crossroads", The Crusader, Vol. II, No. 10, June 1920

"At the Crossroads" (Part 2)


The Klu Klux Klan

Heroic Ireland

The Ku-Klux Klan

Black Troops and Blond Brutes The Crusader, Vol. IV, No. 2, April 1921

The Constitution of the African Blood Brotherhood The Crusader, Vol. IV, No. 4, June 1921

The Congo State The Crusader, Vol. IV, No. 4, June 1921

The Tulsa Riot and the African Blood Brotherhood The Crusader, Vol. IV, No. 5, July 1921

Two Religions in Practice

The Negro Convention

Briggs Says Garvey Lies The Crusader, Vol. V, No. 2, October 1921

Garvey Turns Informer

Editorial: Garvey Turns Informer The Crusader, Vol. V, No. 3, November 1921

Lessons in Tactics for the Liberation Movement The Crusader, Vol. V, No. 3, November 1921

The Negro Liberation Movement


The Workers Party, Marcus Garvey and the Negro The Crusader, January-February 1922


"You’ll Come Crawling Back in a Week” Daily Worker, August 14, 1926

Passaic Strike Film is Graphic Struggle Picture Daily Worker, September 24, 1926


Stubborn Mill Baron Prolongs Passaic Strike Daily Worker, January 8, 1927

China's Rising Tide of Color Daily Worker, February 10, 1927

The Passaic Spirit Daily Worker, February 22, 1927

Rally Labor for Passaic Strike Prisoners Labor Defender, May 1927


The Legion in Harlem Parade Daily Worker, September 1, 1928


The Jim Crow Red Cross Labor Defender, January 1929

Storm and Red Cross Terror


Daily Worker Editorial: White Chauvinism Daily Worker, January 8, 1929

The Negro Papers in Class War Daily Worker, January 9, 1929

Negro Bosses Fight Labor, Not Lynching Daily Worker, January 30, 1929

'Negro Champion' Sends Donation to Save 'Daily' Daily Worker, February 4, 1929

Negro Youth Fight College Despotism Daily Worker, February 6, 1929

Flood Hits Negro Hardest; Red Cross Refuses Relief Daily Worker, March 22, 1929

Communist Party Announces Special Activities for National Negro Week, May 10-20 Daily Worker, April 25, 1929

Negro Revolutionary Hero – Toussaint L’Ouverture The Communist, May 1929

Toussaint L’Ouverture, Negro Revolutionary Hero Daily Worker, May 16, 1929

The Negro Question in Southern Textile Strikes The Communist, June 1929

Results of National Negro Week Daily Worker, June 8, 1929

Further Notes on Negro Question in Southern Textile Strikes The Communist, July 1929

The Negro Press as a Class Weapon The Communist, August 1929

The Negro in "the Land of the Free" Labor Defender, September 1929

The Lovestoneites in Action Daily Worker, October 30, 1929

Briand's Pan Europe Idea Daily Worker, November 5, 1929

"Support Haiti Revolution!" Daily Worker, December 10, 1929


Call on Negro Workers to Unite for March 6 Struggle, Daily Worker, March 4, 1930

May First and the Revolutionary Traditions of the Negro Masses

A.N.L.C. Statement, Daily Worker, May 24, 1930

Imperialists and Negro "Gold Star" Mothers, Daily Worker, July 12, 1930

Like Kings' Jesters, Daily Worker, August 2, 1930

Garvey Leadership and the C.P., Daily Worker, August 4, 1930

The Negro Masses and the Imperialist War, Daily Worker, August 9, 1930

Negro Steel Workers Are Worst Exploited, Daily Worker, August 16, 1930

The Southern Vagrancy Laws, Daily Worker, August 21, 1930

Negro Workers Turning to Party, Daily Worker, August 29, 1930

Must Negro Workers Ever be Victims of Boss Murder Lust? Five Lynched Within Two Days This Week!, Daily Worker, September 13, 1930

Fight Lynchers, Their Gov't; Vote "Red"!, Daily Worker, September 16, 1930

Another Negro Paper Forced to Admit Sincerity of Communists Daily Worker, September 27, 1930

Pullman Porters Charge Philip Randolph Rifled Fund. Faker Robs Fund Donated to Prosecute Lynchers of Wilkins, Negro Worker

Only Communist Party Defends Interests of Negro Masses, Daily Worker, October 24, 1930

Boss Parties Expose Each Other As Enemies of Negroes , Daily Worker, November 4, 1930

Nat Turner, Negro Champion and Martyr Daily Worker, November 11, 1930

Garveyism Calls for Black Bosses Instead of White, Daily Worker, November 12, 1930

Garveyism Defends Oppression of Negroes , Daily Worker, November 13, 1930

Boss Negro Paper Lies About Anti-Lynch Meeting in New York , Daily Worker, November 13, 1930

Vote Mass Violation of Jim Crow Laws at St. Louis Convention, Daily Worker, November 17, 1930

120 Delegates at Anti-Lynch Convention Plan Negro Rights Struggle, Daily Worker, November 18, 1930

St. Louis Convention of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, (Article No. 1), Daily Worker, November 22, 1930

St. Louis Convention of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, (Article No. 2), Daily Worker, November 24, 1930

St. Louis Convention of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, (Article No. 3), Daily Worker, November 25, 1930

Riding the Rods to the St. Louis Convention

120 Delegates at ANLC Convention Plan Nation Fight for Negro Rights, Southern Worker, November 29, 1930

Fake Anti-Lynch Congress A Flop, Daily Worker, December 3, 1930

Reformist NAACP Elects As Head Enemy of Negro Masses, Daily Worker, December 31, 1930


Red Cross Tries to Hide Suffering of Town and Country Millions, Daily Worker, February 9, 1931

Slaves That Lincoln “Freed”, Daily Worker, February 14, 1931

Mr. Fish and Present Day Negro Slavery, Daily Worker, February 18, 1931

Persecution of Negro and Foreign-Born Workers, Daily Worker, February 28, 1931

A Reply to A Comrade, Daily Worker, February 28, 1931

Sly Slave Owner Hypocrisy Exposed in U.S. Forced Labor, Daily Worker, March 6, 1931

Garvey Movement Collapses; Bankrupt to Working Class, Daily Worker, March 12, 1931

The Collapse of the Garvey Movement , (article No. 2) Daily Worker, March 13, 1931

Negro Reformists Admit Starvation, Misery of Harlem Negro Workers , Daily Worker, March 17, 1931

Fish and Negro Reformists in Move to Betray Struggle Against Lynching, Daily Worker, March 25, 1931

Torture Convicts in the Southern Prison Camps, Daily Worker, March 31, 1931

Conditions of Negro Masses in U.S. Is Tragic, Homes Being Broken Up, Admits Boss Agency, Daily Worker, April 3, 1931

Negro Reformists, Faking Fight on Unemployment, Plan Parade, Daily Worker, April 4, 1931

Harlem Fakers in Mass Meeting, Daily Worker, April 14, 1931

Harlem Reformists in Fake Unemployment Parade Today, Daily Worker, April 15, 1931

Prepare for May 1 with the "Daily", Daily Worker, April 22, 1931

Mother of Haywood Patterson Appeals for United Effort to Save Lives of 9 Scottsboro Boy Victims, Daily Worker, April 28, 1931

Attacks on Foreign-Born, Negro Workers

N.A.A.C.P. Leaders Collecting Funds in Name of Scottsboro Boys While Sabotaging Their Defense

For a United Struggle to Save Nine Scottsboro Boys. Statement of the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, (with B.D. Amis, Robert Minor and William L. Patterson) Daily Worker, May 23, 1931

The Decline of the Garvey Movement The Communist, June 1931

Bosses Frame Nine Negro Boys

U.S. Imperialists Mobilize G. Schuyler, Daily Worker, July 2, 1931

N.A.A.C.P. Treachery Again, Daily Worker, July 23, 1931

An Open Letter to "Negro World", Daily Worker, August 10, 1931

Continue the Fight Against Evictions, Daily Worker, August 12, 1931

A Reformist Confesses His Crimes Against the Negro Masses, Daily Worker, August 27, 1931

Have the Scottsboro Boys the Right to Say Who Shall Defend Them?, Daily Worker, August 29, 1931

Mr. DePriest Attacks Negro Workers With Evictions, Daily Worker, September 4, 1931

Traitorous Activities of Negro Reformists, Daily Worker, September 16, 1931

The Leading Role of the U.S. in the War on the Soviet Union, Daily Worker, November 11, 1931

Secret Report Tells of Turn of Negro Masses to Communism, Daily Worker, December 5, 1931

Forced Labor on a Mississippi River Levee Project, Daily Worker, December 14, 1931

Negro, White Reformists Spur Betrayal Against Scottsboro 9, Daily Worker, December 18, 1931


Defend the Scottsboro Boys! Smash the Reformist Maneuvers!, Daily Worker, January 21, 1932

Stop the Shipment of Arms and Ammunition to China!, Daily Worker, February 22, 1932

Communism Is On the March in China, Daily Worker, March 14, 1932

"Soviet Philosophy Has Permeated Central Asia”, Daily Worker, March 21, 1932

Butchery and Robbery in ‘Self-Defense’, Daily Worker, March 23, 1932

Japan’s Plans for Reactionary War Against Socialism, Daily Worker, March 25, 1932

The Growth of the Soviet Power in China [article No. 1] Daily Worker, March 31, 1932

War is On! Labor Defender, April 1932

Support the Chinese People Against the Robber Imperialists Daily Worker, April 2, 1932

The Growth of the Soviet Power in China [article No. 2] Daily Worker, April 5, 1932

Negro Workers, Fight Against Intervention [in the Soviet Union]! The Negro Worker, May 15, 1932

The World Situation and the Negro The Negro Worker, June 15, 1932

The Robber War Against China Daily Worker, June 20, 1932

Armed Intervention in China Daily Worker, June 28, 1932

Soviet Districts in China Grow in Power Daily Worker, July 6, 1932

Pickens Again Aids the Lynchers Daily Worker, July 23, 1932

How Garvey Betrayed the Negroes The Negro Worker, August 15, 1932

Whose Supreme Court? Labor Defender, November 1932

The Negro Misleaders on the Scottsboro Decision Daily Worker, November 15, 1932

Alabama Lynch Bosses Set Next Tasks for Tuskegee Heads Daily Worker, December 31, 1932


The Revolutionary Press and the Scottsboro Case, Daily Worker, January 31, 1933

Ruby Bates Admits that Condemned Negro Lads Never Even Touched Her

Imperialists Find If Hard to Continue Disarmament Swindle, Daily Worker, March 13, 1933

Tammany Summons Briggs to Court to Stifle Scottsboro Protest, Daily Worker, April 20, 1933

Try to Railroad Cyril Briggs, Editor of Harlem Liberator, Daily Worker, April 24, 1933

Mass Anger Forces Tammy to Drop Charges Against Briggs, The Harlem Liberator, April 29, 1933

Answer Misleaders! Build Workers Press!, The Harlem Liberator, May 20, 1933

Police Beat and Arrest Editor of Harlem Liberator, Daily Worker, July 4, 1933

Harlem Editor Beaten; Arrested by Police. Briggs Uses Court to Expose Jim-Crow System

Achievements and Shortcomings of the Harlem Liberator, The Harlem Liberator, July 22, 1933

Briggs, Liberator Editor, Attacked, Daily Worker, September 6, 1933

Art Is a Weapon, The Harlem Liberator, September 9, 1933

White Chauvinism Raises Its Ugly Head at the Coney Island Workers Center

Bosses Alarmed at Communist Gains in Harlem Section, Daily Worker, October 12, 1933

The October Labor Defender, Daily Worker, October 18, 1933

Harlem Masses In Angry Protests At Many Meetings, Daily Worker, October 20, 1933

Leibowitz Exploits Scottsboro Record To Put Over McKee. Seeks to Betray Negro Masses By Talk of “My Fight”, Daily Worker, November 3, 1933

Chronology of the 34-Month Mass Fight for 9 Negro Boys, Daily Worker, November 11, 1933

Decatur Trials Prove: No Justice in Boss Courts, Daily Worker, December 7, 1933


The Negro Rises; The Fight of the 'Daily' Against Lynching and Jim-Crowism, Daily Worker, January 6, 1934

9 Negroes Killed In Legal Lynch Orgy By Southern Rulers, Daily Worker, February 12, 1934

NAACP Leadership Split on Tactics of Betraying Negroes. Control of “The Crisis" Passes from Du Bois to Walter White, Daily Worker, February 28, 1934


Japan’s Actions Give Lie to Claim She Aids Darker Peoples, Daily Worker, March 3, 1934

Chinese and Japanese Workers Hail Briggs Exposure of Japan, Daily Worker, March 3, 1934

March Issue of Labor Defender Shows More Improvement, Daily Worker, March 23, 1934

"The Alabama Five", The Harlem Liberator, March 24, 1934

Anti-Fire Trap Meet Tonight To Aid 6th St. Rent Strikers, Daily Worker, March 26, 1934

Strikebreaker Sues "Daily” Taxi Reporter, Daily Worker, March 30, 1934

Dr. Moton Endorsed Drive for Lower Pay For Negro Workers, Daily Worker, April 6, 1934

Delegation Asks Mayor’s Stand on May 1 Permit, Daily Worker, April 7, 1934

Haywood New Sec'y League of Struggle for Negro Rights, Daily Worker, April 26, 1934

What May Day Means for Negro Masses in U.S., Daily Worker, April 28, 1934

Is Self-Determination Jim-Crowism?, Daily Worker, May 19, 1934

Socialist Party Segregates Negro Workers in the South, Daily Worker, May 25, 1934

Reformist Author Can Offer No Way Out For Negro Professionals, Daily Worker, May 30, 1934

Statement in Support of the Daily Worker, Daily Worker, June 30, 1934

Negro Reformism in the Camp of the Imperialist Enemy, Daily Worker, July 7, 1934

What Tom Mooney Thinks of Men Who Betrayed General Strike, Daily Worker, July 21, 1934

Negro Misleaders Exposed As Aides of Alabama Lynch Rulers

Harlem Throng Greets Herndon as Symbol of Revolutionary Unity of Black and White, Daily Worker, August 17, 1934

14,000 at Sacco-Vanzetti Memorial Pledge to Free Herndon and 9 Boys, Daily Worker, August 24, 1934

George Schuyler Does His Bit to Aid Lynchers, Daily Worker, August 27, 1934

A Hero and a Judas Confront Each Other: Herndon vs. Schuyler , Daily Worker, September 8, 1934

Lynch Terror Is Laid Bare At Mass Trial , Daily Worker, September 10, 1934

Trial of 'Pacific Movement’ Organizers Bares Fury of White Rulers at Any Negro Resistance, Daily Worker, October 5, 1934

Vigilante Plot Bared To Kill Dorothy Ray, Hancock, on Release, Daily Worker, October 13, 1934

Scottsboro Case is a Rallying Cry for United Action, Daily Worker, October 20, 1934

4 Mothers Tell Story of Threats, Daily Worker, October 29, 1934

10,000 March in Scottsboro Protest, Daily Worker, November 5, 1934

Militant 'Negro Worker’ Haunts Reformist Leaders, Daily Worker, November 14, 1934

Eye Witness of Lynching Reveals Fiendish Torture, Daily Worker, November 27, 1934

Dead Girls Linked with Suicide Pair, Daily Worker, November 30, 1934

Blind Alley 'Way Out’ Offered Negro Masses By Reformist Misleader, Daily Worker, December 10, 1934

Enemies of U.S.S.R. Flayed at Kirov Rally, Daily Worker, December 25, 1934

'Mental Test’ for Jane Newton Another Sign of Growing Trend Toward Fascism in U.S., Daily Worker, December 27, 1934


Promises of New Deal Are Written in Blood of 57 Strikers Who Were Murdered in 1934, Daily Worker, January 1, 1935

Frederick Douglas: Militant Fighter for Negro Freedom, Daily Worker, February 9, 1935

Home Loan Corporation Aid Is Denied Negroes, Daily Worker, February 16, 1935

Who Is Superior? Bourgeois Theories of Master and Slave Races Exploded by Historical Facts, Daily Worker, February 22, 1935

Jim-Crowism, Sheer Hunger, Rife in Harlem, Daily Worker, March 22, 1935

80% in Harlem Are Jobless, Survey Shows, Daily Worker, March 23, 1935

Police Killer of Laurie Also Murderer of Boy , Daily Worker, March 28, 1935

Killer of Negro Boy Exposed, Daily Worker, April 8, 1935

The Position of Negro Women (with Eugene Gordon)

'Hands Off Ethiopia!’ Is Demand of 100,000 in Harlem Rally, Daily Worker, August 5, 1935


Is Japan the Champion of the Colored Races? (with Theodore Bassett, A. W. Berry, James W. Ford and Harry Haywood)


Transcript: W.P.A. Interview with Cyril Briggs re: African Blood Brotherhood


Dissolution Is No Solution The Party Forum, Vol. 1, No. 4, September 10, 1956


Letter to Theodore Draper


On the Negro Question (A Discussion) Political Affairs, March 1959



Last updated: 4 December 2023