by Michael A. Grant, J.D.
“Not him who has much but he who has much to give is rich”
— Native American proverb
Theophilus Bartholomeus Boyd, III, was born into a family of means. His family owned the National Baptist Publishing Board and had a controlling interest in Citizens Savings and Trust Bank. Like many who are born with privilege bestowed on them, Dr. Boyd could have chosen to ignore the plight of the less fortunate. However, he understood at an early age, “To whom much is given, from him much is required.”
I first came to know Dr. Boyd or “TB” as some affectionally called him, when he was chairing the Middle Tennessee effort to raise funds for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Jackie Thompson, who had served as his public relations director at Citizen’s Bank, and I formed a marketing and public relations company, Conceptions, Inc. Dr. Boyd, an ardent supporter of black entrepreneurship, awarded our fledgling company with a much-needed contract to solicit Middle Tennessee companies on behalf of the UNCF. He would also contract with Conceptions to do public relations for the publishing board. I would learn later that Dr. Boyd had encouraged many other striving entrepreneurs as well.
In 1990, Dr. Boyd was asked to fund a statewide meeting of interdenominational church leaders for an all-day conference designed to come up with strategies to promote economic development through the structure of the church. The event was covered in Jet Magazine.
While I was serving as president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Dr. Boyd’s financial support allowed the branch to use its status to highlight the importance of black economic empowerment.
When Dr. Boyd was called on to help fund a drive to give emergency assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, he proudly announced that he had already made a large contribution to the effort.
Lastly, when former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich of Georgia was pushing his heartless legislative agenda, incapsulated in the now infamous “Contract with America”, Dr. Boyd helped to orchestrate a blistering counter-attack arguing that the Republican congressman was promoting an agenda that favored wealthy Americans at the expense of the poor.
When I served as president of the National Bankers Association in Washington D.C., Dr. Boyd could always be counted on for financial support.
This short tribute does not begin to capture the magnitude of Dr. Boyd’s generosity. I just thought one person’s close-up accounting of this man’s compassionate concern for our race and his willingness to use his privileged position to give back to the community was deserving of this very public tribute.
May he rest in peace!
Michael A. Grant is president of United Security Financial, Inc. an African-American owned mortgage company.