By Monique Gooch
NASHVILLE, TN — In 1896, the former slave Rev. Dr. Richard Henry Boyd founded the National Baptist Publishing Board now known as R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation in Nashville.
Dr. Boyd was given the name of Dick Gray when he was born in 1843 in Mississippi in 1843. But he changed his name after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Surprisingly, the small Black-owned company he founded is not very well known. But while the company is small, the mission is mighty. So much rich history lies inside the building located off Centennial Boulevard. Guests are allowed to visit the site and check out the few remaining artifacts in the building, including an original printing press. In the book, How It Came to Be: The Boyd Family’s Contribution to African-American Publishing from the 19th to the 21 Century, details how Richard Henry Boyd received assistance with printing from the white Southern Baptist Convention, which had its main publishing operations in Nashville.
While most publishing companies send their books off to print, R.H. Boyd is one of the few publishing houses to print their books in house. R.H. Boyd does partner with other printers, but they do utilize their own printing press to print books. The rest of the artifacts including an original printing plate and time clock was sent to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Fifth generation CEO Dr. LaDonna Boyd has been leading the company since her father Dr. T.B. Boyd, III retired. As
president/CEO, Boyd is shaping and leading R.H. Boyd’s efforts to broaden its scope and offerings for modern needs. With a targeted focus on product development, technology, commercial (non-religious) printing opportunities, and author resources, Boyd has been preparing for a number of years to take the reins as a CEO—cultivating a wide range of skills necessary to lead the R.H. Boyd through a new generation.
“Through R.H. Boyd, we have a multitude of resources that showcase the beauty and diversity of the Black voice. Since its founding by my great-great-grandfather in 1896, we have been an active supporter and participant in the liberation of our people for five generations, and now is not the time to rest on our laurels,” says Boyd.
Patrons can take a tour of the vicinity including the bookstore, the printing press and stockroom. To plan a visit go to: www.rhboyd.com or call 615-350-8000. You may also visit the website to purchase any materials ranging from Vacation Bible School products, Sunday school curriculum, apparel or any other items R.H. Boyd has in stock.
“The importance of the Black voice and narrative is unquantifiable, as this nation was built on the strength and perseverance of our ancestors. We have to tell our stories and write our dreams,” Boyd said. “As a publishing company, we are storytellers. We have the ability to shape the minds and experiences of the masses. As a Christian company, we have the significant responsibility and opportunity to draw people into the Kingdom through the written Word.”