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*Richard Henry Boyd was born on this date in 1843. He was a Black preacher, missionary, entrepreneur, publisher, banker, educator, writer, and Black Nationalist.
Boyd was born a slave to Indiana Dixon in Noxubee County, Mississippi. Though his slave master christened him Dick Gray, he changed his name to Richard Henry Boyd after the American Civil War. During the war, he served as a Texas Confederate body servant near the Battle of Chattanooga. In 1869, Richard Boyd became a Baptist minister. In 1872, he helped organize the Negro Baptist Convention of Texas. During the 1880s, he attended Bishop College, strongly believing in the ideals of Black initiative and self-help for former slaves.
This ideology would influence his life-long support of Booker T. Washington. In 1909, Boyd, Preston Taylor, James C. Napier, and other prominent Black leaders would sponsor a statewide tour for Booker T. Washington. Boyd moved to Nashville in 1896 to establish a publishing house for Negro Baptists. He wanted Blacks to publish their own literature, operate their own businesses, and channel the minds of their own children. He became a member of the Reverend C. H. Clark’s Mount Olive Baptist Church, where Boyd’s work was unending. He assisted in the work of the American Missionary Convention, the American Foreign Mission Convention, and the Education Convention.
He contributed to the founding and growth of Bishop College, Guadalupe College, Boyd’s Normal Institute, Central Texas College, Roger Williams University, and the National Baptist Theological and Missionary Training Seminary in Nashville. Boyd wrote more than fourteen denominational books, including Plantation Melody Songs, Theological Kernels, An Outline of Negro Baptist History, and The Story of the Publishing Board. He traveled globally, including at the World’s Baptist Alliance Meeting in London.
He was involved in organizing the One Cent Savings Bank, the Nashville Globe newspaper, the National Baptist Church Supply Company, the National Negro Doll Company, and the Baptist Sunday School Congress. He was a member of various fraternal, civic, and professional organizations; he was a leader of Black Nashville’s 1905 streetcar boycott and purchasing agent of the Union Transportation Company. Richard Henry Boyd died in August 1927.
An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage
by Marvin Andrew McMickle
Judson Press, Copyright 2002