The African Blood Brotherhood and The Crusader News Service
Many people are not familiar with the ABB (the African Blood Brotherhood), but during the period from 1919 to 1922. They were very active in exposing Marcus Garvey as a “fraud.” The African Blood Brotherhood was organized by a black man named Cyril Briggs who created the Crusader News Service (CNS) to fight the philosophy of Garvey. In fact, many black news papers around the country used the CNS as a weekly news service for national news during the early part of the 1900s. Unknown too many is the fact that this was the first national black news service in the country and it preceded the Associate Negro Press (ANP). The ABB opposed the narrow nationalism of Marcus Garvey calling him a “simpleton flag-waving Uncle Tom” (the Red, Black, and Green of the UNIA) who supported the racist colonialism of the French and the British in Africa.
Narrow nationalism seeks to raise a certain ethnic group above all others by claiming that all of problems faced by that ethnic are the result of the other group’s actions and that their group is somehow superior to everybody else on the planet. There may be some truth to the claim when one ethnic group is in power and uses racist actions as in the case of white supremacy, but it can hardly be true between blacks and Hispanics who are both the victims of white supremacy. Mexican Americans and African Americans have both been victims of white supremacy, and both have been divided so as to fight amongst each other. In the past, narrow nationalist black organizations claimed that they were supposed to be closer to whites because they both speak English, which makes Mexicans the enemy of both. Some Uncle Tom narrow nationalist Mexicans have claimed that whites and blacks are their enemies because blacks often side with whites under various circumstances. All of this is pure stupidity since no one can hold an entire ethnic group responsible for the actions of a few. Nevertheless a few narrow nationalists have tried.
When Marcus Garvey created his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) he used narrow nationalism to make himself rich and above others in terms of “race.” Opposing Garvey was a revolutionary organization similar to the Black Panthers called the African Blood Brotherhood (the ABB). This group led a spirited defense against a mob of racist whites that burned out blacks in the Tulsa, Oklahoma riot of 1919. While Garvey espoused race supremacy, and expecting everybody to call him “Your Excellency,” the African Blood Brotherhood viewed him as a “Bourgeoisie” puppet of the white ruling class. In his defense, Garvey did raise the black awareness needed to overcome self-hate, but he had serious flaws.
The African Blood Brotherhood called Garveyism a “shrewd mixture of racialism, religion, and nationalistic fanaticism.” Garvey appeared to be militant, but said nothing about the white capitalist exploitation of the black masses. Garvey was viewed as a con-man by the revolutionary black movement who could not agree with going back to Africa, which was something that the KKK supported and white supremacy in general. The ABB had a program that wished to educate the general population about the big colonial capitalist powers who controlled African colonies with brutal oppression, but the organization did not support narrow nationalism and believed in working with allies across ethnic and racial lines. They ABB opposed black ethnocentrism or black supremacy (like the Black Panthers) and fought white supremacy at the same time. Going back to Africa was not and is not a viable option given the ethnic conflicts raging there. Blacks and others built America and should fight here until complete recognition and victory against racism is won.