NATIONAL BAPTIST PUBLISHING BOARD (1896- )
During November and December of 1896, the National Baptist Publishing
Board was established in Nashville by the Reverend Richard Henry Boyd (1843-
1922). Before becoming secretary of the Home Mission Board of the National
Baptist Convention in September of 1896, Boyd pursued the idea of providing
literature for the Convention's member churches. Upon his arrival in Nashville
in November of 1896, he received help and advice from the Reverend Charles
H. Clark of Mount Olive Baptist Church, officers of the African Methodist
Episcopal Sunday School Union, and the white Southern Baptist Convention's
publishers. The latter establishment lent Boyd its printing plates to print
the first publications of the National Baptist Publishing Board. The Board
began on January 1, 1897, and was first located in the Brown Building on
Cedar (Charlotte) Street before moving into three buildings on Second Avenue,
North, and Locust Street. To equip the facility, Boyd sought the services
of a white man to visit auctions and bid for machinery, since the rules
of segregation would not allow blacks to engage in such activity.
The main purpose of the National Baptist Publishing Board was to publish literature for denominational use. The Board also published books which gave accounts of the denomination's history and books on a variety of secular subjects, including Richard H. Boyd's The Separate or "Jim Crow" Car Laws (1909). With a plant valued at $350,000 by 1913, the National Baptist Publishing Board became one of the largest business enterprises owned and operated by blacks in the United States.
The Reverend Boyd presided over the publishing board until his death in 1922, then his son, Henry Allen Boyd, assumed leadership of the company. Henry A. Boyd implemented new business practices and operational procedures, which promoted the growth of the business. He directed the company for thirty-seven years. When Henry Allen Boyd died in 1959, Theophilus Bartholomew Boyd, Jr., was elected secretary-treasurer and chief administrator of the National Baptist Publishing Board. As a young man, he had worked in every department of the publishing plant and was fully acquainted with all aspects of the business. It was during T. B. Boyd, Jr.'s administration that the National Baptist Publishing Board experienced its most prosperous period. For the sum of $60,000, the Board purchased four and a half acres of land on Centennial Boulevard and erected a one million dollar building for operations and administrative offices. After serving the National Baptist Publishing Board for twenty years, Dr. T. B. Boyd, Jr., died on April 1, 1979, and was interred in the Woodlawn Mausoleum.
The fourth generation of leadership was provided by Dr. T. B. Boyd, III. He, too, continued the Boyd tradition of progressive leadership. Under his leadership, the National Baptist Publishing Board continued to modernize its operations and expand the circulation of periodicals. By 1944, the National Baptist Publishing Board included millions in sales, worldwide distribution of publications, and operation of its Annual Sunday School Congress (1905- ), which attracted over 30,000 "messengers" to convention cities all over America.
Linda T. Wynn