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Richard Henry Boyd born into slavery


On this day in 1843, Richard Henry Boyd began his remarkable life. He was born in Mississippi and named Dick Gray, a slave of B. A. Gray, and was later taken to his owner’s new plantation near Brenham, Texas. Boyd accompanied Gray and his three sons as a servant in the Confederate army. After Gray and his two older sons died in battle near Chattanooga, Boyd carried the youngest son, who was badly wounded, back to the Texas plantation. Boyd took charge of the plantation and managed cotton production and sales until emancipation. He then worked as a cowboy and in 1867 changed his name from Gray to Richard Henry Boyd. Self-taught, he enrolled in Bishop College at Marshall and was later ordained a Baptist minister. He organized six churches into the first black Baptist association in Texas in 1870 and went on to represent the group at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Boyd rose to prominence in Texas as a religious leader, established more churches, and published literature for black Baptist Sunday schools. In the mid-1890s he moved to Nashville, where his accomplishments included organizing a bank, a publishing company, and a doll company. He also wrote or edited fourteen books.

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