By Rosetta Miller Perry
There’s been a lot written and rightly so about the business accomplishments of Dr. Theophilus Bartholomew Boyd III, (T.B. to all of us who knew and loved him).
He was the fourth-generation president/CEO and chairman emeritus of the R.H. Boyd family of companies (RHB). His impact and acumen helped make the family businesses an amazing success, one that could stand with any business empire anywhere in the nation.
His family’s interests in the National Baptist Publishing Board helped establish it as the premier entity for religious publications and materials. They also owned and operated Citizens Savings and Trust Bank, which was founded by Richard Henry Boyd at the turn of the century. The Boyd family was at the epicenter of Black progress and economic development. They didn’t just talk about it, they lived it every day and they helped create wealth and empowered the Black community on a daily basis.
But for me, T.B. Boyd’s impact goes way beyond dollars and cents. When I was trying to start a newspaper that would spotlight the positive achievements of Black people, none of the white banks were remotely interested in helping. They all considered it a pipe dream. But he knew there was a place out there for a paper covering the good things that Blacks were doing both locally and nationally. He recognized that there was a coverage gap, that the white press only wanted to showcase the negative and outrageous incidents in our community.
Thanks to his efforts and assistance, the Tribune was not only able to get started, but we’ve grown and prospered to the point we’re now the state’s largest Black-owned newspaper and have opened The Tennessee Tribune News Store at Nashville’s International Airport and a 2nd store follows in a few months. His advice and counsel on so many things was always invaluable.
I carefully studied how the National Baptist Publishing Board operated. They produce books and materials for churches, church schools and Sunday schools, and one of the first things Dr. Boyd did was created a new hymnal published by the board. He always advised me to keep an eye on things in the community, and to anticipate when something wasn’t being covered that needed to be.
We were also in agreement that so many in our community lacked self-esteem and weren’t aware of the many great things that Blacks were doing every day.
“That’s why it’s so important for African American kids to take pride and relearn what their home place is all about. They need to take courses in school that emphasize African history and [Africa’s] place in world history,” he told the Tribune years ago.
He also was a huge influence in counseling me to remain independent, to be willing to tell the truth as we saw it, even when it might be unpopular or make powerful people angry. I knew that no matter what might happen, we’d have Dr. Boyd and all his resources at our disposal to counter any threats that might be made.
But he also was just a very good friend outside of business, someone that my husband and I would would travel to his Conventions around the nation as his special guest. He enjoyed having a good time away from the pressures of the Publishing Board and bank and various interests at his Conventions.
I know it’s an old cliche to say that someone is one in a million, but Dr. T. B. Boyd was bigger than that. He was one in a lifetime. I can’t fully express the profound sense of loss at his passing, and it goes way beyond just his incredible accomplishments. The Tribune has lost a huge supporter and I’ve lost a dear and irreplaceable friend.