The R.H. Boyd Family has a legacy that stretches back generations in Nashville. Creating opportunities within the community that allowed African Americans to thrive in spite of all the many obstacles our culture has endured. From creating a publishing conglomerate steeped in faith and intentional storytelling, founding one of the first African American-owned banks in the country, Citizens Savings Bank & Trust Company to being influential in bringing Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College for Negroes, (now Tennessee State University) to Nashville. Their family legacy is now being carried on by their fifth generation, under the leadership of Ms. LaDonna Boyd.
She is helming R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation with grace as they continue on their mission to share the African American experience. She is leading the organization into forward-thinking new initiatives while always having her family roots at the forefront, including their current initiative to save her historical family house – The Boyd House. Acquired by Fisk University in the late 1930s and is currently listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The home is a cultural gem in our city and LaDonna is on a mission to have it restored for many generations to know the story. We had an opportunity to connect with LaDonna as she shared a little about why family is so important and how she is looking to continue her family legacy and heart for her community.
You are now carrying on your family legacy as the CEO of R.H. Boyd, why was taken on this role so important?
This role is important to me because I count it a privilege and an honor to carry on my ancestors’ legacy. My great-great-grandfather started this company 125 years ago to give voice to the voiceless and lend a voice that reflects the Black experience. In these days and times, that initiative is more important than ever.
What have you enjoyed the most leading R.H. Boyd in this new season?
It is a joyful experience to be able to represent the importance of Black entrepreneurship, building legacies, and creating generational wealth. Our family can serve as an example or blueprint of what it looks like to be forward-thinking and thought-provoking, while being mission oriented. There are many new projects with R.H. Boyd that will be announced soon, as well.
What new legacy are you looking to create as CEO?
If recent times have taught us anything, it is that innovation is key to sustaining a business. My vision is for R.H. Boyd to continue to be at the forefront of telling our story, creating opportunities for new authors, leading conversations, and inspiring the next generation of leaders. We want them to know that their aspirations and goals are attainable.
Why is your current initiative, Save the Boyd House so significant?
This initiative is so significant because the contributions made by the Boyd family and businesses to Nashville history, Black history, HBCU history, and American history are vast. Dr. Henry Allen Boyd, my great-great-uncle, worked diligently to build businesses alongside his father, Dr. Richard Henry Boyd, that met the needs of freedmen in the late 19th to mid-20th century, including The Nashville Globe, Citizen’s Bank, The Negro Doll Company, the National Baptist Congress, The Union Review, and, R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation. He paved the way for generations of innovators and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and walks of life. The Boyd House is testament to his work and success of the past that we continue to build upon to ensure a better future for generations to come. There are not many physical representations of Black entrepreneurship and legacy that are still remaining. We have the opportunity to preserve this home as a testament to that era and his impact.
The restoration of the Boyd House will be an amazing gift to Fisk and the North Nashville community. What are you looking forward to the most with the success of the campaign?
I am looking forward to the potential of future partnerships and the opportunities for the education and advancement of minority students. No one can deny the business growth taking place here in Nashville, and since the space will be used for the business and entrepreneurial pursuits of students, being able to connect students and the university in real time with those organizations will be extremely beneficial for all parties. Achievement of this goal also sends a message that Black cultural symbols are important and deserving of preservation. They should not be demolished. We must stand firm and tell the story for future generations.
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