National Baptist Publishing Board
Chartered in 1896 by Richard H. Boyd and a group of black businessmen and fully operational by 1898, the National Baptist Publishing Board grew in the twentieth century to be the largest black publishing enterprise in the United States. Located on Second Avenue North in downtown Nashville, the board employed over one hundred African Americans by 1910, and became a successful symbol of “race enterprise.” Initially printing Sunday school lessons authored by whites, by 1910 the board employed black writers to pen homilies that found their way into thousands of black churches across the nation. The board was also instrumental in the publication of song sheets and hymn books, which became standard in black churches across the nation. Thomas Dorsey, the “father of gospel music,” made his name publishing songs through the auspices of the National Baptist Publishing Board before later moving on to more commercial presses. In addition, subsidiary enterprises of the board made dolls, church pews, and accoutrements for worship.
In 1915 disputes over the relationship of the board to the larger National Baptist Convention split black churches across the nation and split the National Baptist Convention into two different institutions. The National Baptist Publishing Board remained in Nashville. Boyd presided over its operations until his death in 1922, when his son, Henry Allen Boyd, succeeded him. Henry A. Boyd significantly expanded the company’s business during his thirty-seven years of leadership. Dr. T. B. Boyd Jr. became chief administrator in 1959, serving for the next twenty years, during which time he acquired and developed the board’s modern printing plant on Centennial Boulevard. After his death in 1979, his son Dr. T. B. Boyd III became the fourth generation of Boyds to guide this important religious publishing entity.
Bobby L. Lovett and Linda T. Wynn, eds., Profiles of African Americans in Tennessee (1996)