R. H. Boyd and the National Baptist Publishing Board
The R. H. Boyd Publishing Corporation of Nashville is one of the oldest continuously operated, family-run African American businesses.
Rev. Dr. R. H. Boyd, Founder
Richard Henry Boyd (1843–1922), born into slavery in Mississippi, built the nationally renowned National Baptist Publishing Board in Nashville, Tennessee. Boyd personified the spirit of self-help and entrepreneurship advocated by leaders like Booker T. Washington. At a time of racial exclusion and persecution, Boyd worked to establish independent Black businesses that fostered economic growth and racial pride. As an ordained Baptist minister, he also saw business as a way to promote religious freedom by enabling Black churches to produce their own materials for worship and education.
Will you help the young Negro be a self-respecting man by putting the Periodicals of his father’s organization in his hands?
R. H. Boyd, 1896
National Baptist Publishing Board
R. H. Boyd believed strongly in the need for Black Baptists to produce their own religious materials, rather than continuing to depend on those supplied by white Baptist organizations. He founded the National Baptist Publishing Board in 1896 to print and distribute various periodicals, song and lesson books, and other spiritually themed titles. By 1930 the company was printing 20 different periodicals with a combined circulation of over 12.7 million.
Many of the company’s publications supported the work of the National Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress of the National Baptist Convention of America. Founded by R. H. Boyd in 1906, it became one of the most significant annual conferences dedicated to African American religious education. Now known as the National Baptist Congress, it continues today under the sponsorship of the R. H. Boyd Publishing Corporation.
A Hub for Black Business
Under R. H. Boyd’s leadership, the National Baptist Publishing Board became a hub for a multitude of other Black business ventures in Nashville. Among the other companies Boyd helped to establish were the National Baptist Church Supply Company, the One-Cent Savings Bank (later renamed Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company), the Negro Doll Company, the Union Transportation Company, and the Nashville Globe newspaper. All of these enterprises reflected and expanded on Boyd’s mission to provide African Americans with greater control over their social, economic, and educational lives.
Today known as the R. H. Boyd Publishing Corporation, the company founded by R. H. Boyd in 1896 is one of the oldest continuously operated, family-run African American businesses. Several generations have worked to uphold and expand the founder’s legacy. After R. H. Boyd’s death in 1922, leadership of the company passed to his son Henry Allen Boyd, who was succeeded in 1959 by Dr. T. B. Boyd Jr., followed by Dr. T. B. Boyd III in 1979. Since 2017, Dr. LaDonna Boyd, great-great-granddaughter of R. H. Boyd, has served as the President/CEO and Chairman of the Board of R. H. Boyd Publishing Corporation.