RH Boyd Publishing Corporation, which was founded in 1896 by a survivor of slavery and a Civil War veteran, celebrates its 125e anniversary with expanded content and an ongoing mission to serve black communities.
Robert Henry Boyd founded the National Baptist Publishing Board to provide black Baptists with religious content, including hymns, church programs, periodicals, and books. Today, the Nashville, Tennessee-based company is known as RH Boyd Publishing, and Boyd’s great-great-granddaughter Dr. LaDonna Boyd continues that mission. Boyd is the fifth family member to lead the company. As president and CEO, she envisions brand expansion as well as more business books for the printing and publishing company.
“We are not straying from anything; moreover, we are adding to our offerings,” explains Boyd TPnoting that she would like to publish 10-15 commercial titles per year in the future.
RHB has published hundreds of books featuring religious content and resources for church administrators, in addition to occasional titles in categories such as inspiration, history, biography, and education. Among his bestsellers is the New National Baptist Anthem. Going forward, Boyd wants to publish more books in all categories. “We are open to the full spectrum, from in-depth theological studies and pastoral resources to children’s books and coloring books.”
RHB employs a team of 40 people across multiple departments including online retail, in-house production and printing, editorial, and more. As editorial output grows, Boyd expects the editorial team to grow as well.
Among his forthcoming business books is Rosa Parks Beyond the Bus: Life, Lessons and Leadership by HH Leonards, a Washington, DC-based philanthropist and founder of Mansion on O Street, an event space dedicated to promoting diversity and creativity. Leonards was a friend of the late Rosa Parks, who stayed with Leonards on O Street while recovering from an assault in 1994. The publication is timed with Juneteenth: “His story and the idea of liberation go hand in hand Boyd said.
The book describes little-known stories about Parks related to her faith as well as her ideas for ending racism, while correcting misconceptions about her perpetuated by the media.
“People think of her as an older woman on the bus, but she was in her early 40s,” Boyd points out. “She was not physically tired, but emotionally there is a big difference.” Additionally, it is widely believed that Parks sat in the “whites only” section of the bus. It was actually the first row of the “color only” section, but the driver had moved the panel. “It represents the Black experience, where the goal post is always moved,” Boyd said. Also revealed in the book, Parks imagined the face of Emmett Till, who had recently been lynched, as she found the strength to say she wasn’t moving.
Leonards holds a book signing at the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville during book launch week, in addition to events at her home on O Street. Other events will be added throughout the summer.
Looking to the next 125 years of publishing at RHB, Boyd says, “We make sure to tell the full story of not just the black experience and experiences of faith, but culture in general – things about families, finances, health and generational wealth. We want to make sure that we empower and uplift multiple communities and tell the stories that need to be told.”