When Dr. Theophilus B. Boyd III and his wife, Yvette, speak about their family, images of the Huxtables come to mind.
“When our kids were growing up it was a lot of fun. It was a very busy, very active household," Dr. Boyd recalls. "Let’s see, it would be me, my wife, three kids, often their friends, 16 goldfish, one rabbit, and something like a rat…whatever it was, I made my son keep it in a cage in his room!” Today the Boyds have four adult children: Theophilus B. IV, 41, works in finance; LaDonna, 27, named “Miss Black Tennessee” in 2010, received her M.B.A. from Tennessee State University; Shalae, 24, is a senior at Tennessee State University and Justin, 21, is a junior there.
Few African American families can relish in their history like the Boyds. For them, fertile ground was laid, and the dream and the hope of the slave was planted. The family owns R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation in Nashville, Tennessee, the largest publishing center in the Southeast. Their lineage is one of desire, common sense, hard-work, self-determination and, as a result, four generations of prosperity. The Boyd dynasty is a rich story, from “way back.” They have been in business for 116 years!
Richard Henry Boyd, for whom the company is now named, was born a slave. He could not read. He could not write. Yet this did not stop him from seeing the light of opportunity when there was one. After the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and he “won” his freedom, he fearlessly pursued the sides of himself that were not allowed to exist in the mind of a slave. “My great grandfather wanted to explore life beyond his preset boundaries,” says Dr. Boyd. After moving to Texas he worked as a cowboy, a foreman at sawmills, and he learned to read and write. Dr. Boyd continues, “When he became a preacher, he found that in his readings there was nothing that reflected his [Black American] religious experience.”
Richard Henry respected the importance of being able to see one’s self reflected in the imagery of the word. He reacted as any good publishing mind would: he responded to a need. “He gathered all the people he could find who were educated and had biblical knowledge, and they began to write religious texts for African Americans.” Dr. Boyd continues, “This is how many Blacks learned to read.”
After gaining momentum for his publishing idea, dream in tow, Richard Henry moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he received support from a local minister at the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. He built his company in 1896, and, by 1897 they were in their offices, a place, appropriately called, the Brown Building. In 1905, the Globe Publishing Company was established along with the National Baptist Church Supply Company.
From here, the Boyd Family saga continued to flourish. Upon Dr. R. H. Boyd’s death, his son Dr. Henry Allen Boyd took the reigns. Henry Allen is one of the founding fathers of Tennessee State University. By 1934, the publishing company serviced 20,000 Sunday Schools and 8,000 churches. Then, Dr. T. B. Boyd, Jr., took over in the 1960’s, and strove to modernize the company’s facilities. And in honor of family, he worked closely with his wife in marriage and ministry—and gave to Dr. Martine Luther King.
In the 1970s, the publishing company gave generously to the National Baptist Convention and continued give to the Civil Rights Movement. When Dr. T. B. Boyd III, was appointed President and CEO after his father passed, he simultaneously served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Citizens Trust and Saving Bank.
Dr. Boyd III, then expanded the company’s product line. Perhaps taking a note from his forefather, he gathered an exceptional team of Christian songwriters, musical directors, and singers to create the hymnal found behind the bench in most Baptist churches in America and the Caribbean, The New National Baptist Hymnal, 21st Century Edition.
Yvette Jean Duke, a graduate from Tennessee State University, met Dr. Boyd at a college football game. She recalls, “I was with a girlfriend who knew him, and I was like, 'Who is that?!' My friend looked at me and said, 'Don’t you know?’” Fortunately, she and Dr. Boyd felt similarly. Before meeting her, he saw her and thought, “ That’s for me right there!” They have been married for 28 years.
About town, the Boyds of today are active in community service, scholarships, and various charities. They enjoy a gown-and-tux-social life and are admiringly called ‘the Black Barbie dolls’ by friends. Along with his many accolades in business, finance and education, Dr. Boyd’s exceptional style was given a nod when he was once named Nashville’s Best Dressed Man Of The Year. He says, “In life, you have to take what you have naturally and do the best