Boyd, Henry Allen (1876–1959)

By: Peggy Hardman

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Henry Allen Boyd, the first black to hold a clerkship in the San Antonio post office, manager and cofounder of the Nashville Globe, was born in Grimes County, Texas, on April 15, 1876, one of nine children of Richard Henry (born Dick Gray) and Hattie (Moore) Boyd. His father, a former slave and Texas cowboy turned Baptist minister, inspired young Henry with an "aggressive concern for race achievement and personal initiative." Henry Allen Boyd began working in the San Antonio post office while still a teenager. He remained there until leaving Texas with his wife and daughter around 1896. The family settled in Nashville, Tennessee, where Boyd's father was secretary of the National Baptist Convention's Home Mission Board and had founded a publishing firm. Boyd joined his father in Nashville and began working for the National Baptist Publishing Board. He became an ordained Baptist minister in 1904. When the elder Boyd died in 1922, Henry carried on the work of the publishing facility.

An unsuccessful black boycott against the Nashville streetcars in 1905 inspired men such as Boyd to establish the Nashville Globe, the "only secular black newspaper" in the city. The editorial tone of the Globe combined "Booker T. Washington economic self-help philosophy, and an uncompromising sense of black pride." Boyd's concern with the progress of African Americans led to other business ventures. The National Baptist Church Supply Company manufactured and marketed church furniture from the publishing facility's physical plant. The National Negro Doll Company produced dolls with the plant's machinery. Boyd noted in the Globe, "When you see a Negro doll in the arms of a Negro child then you know that the child is being taught a lesson in race price and race development which will not result in race suicide."

Boyd's efforts resulted in the founding in 1911 of the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School with money from the Morrill Act. The Tennessee Normal, Agricultural, and Mechanical Association was formed to lobby for Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State University) in Nashville. The school emphasized industrial education, although teacher training soon became a significant part of the program. Boyd's father founded the One Cent Savings Bank and Trust Company (now Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company), the original black bank in Nashville. Boyd took over control of the institution upon his father's death, and from his position as chairman entered into a variety of business enterprises, including the purchase of stock in Jacksonville, Florida, real estate. He also bought stock in the Standard Life Insurance Company of Atlanta and the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company of Chicago, which he served as a director and director emeritus. After two major surgeries Boyd succumbed to pneumonia, on May 23, 1959, leaving behind a daughter, two sisters, and a brother. His funeral was held on June 3 in Mount Olive Baptist Church, Nashville; the burial followed at Greenwood Cemetery.

Lester C. Lamon, Black Tennesseans, 1900–1930 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977). Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982).
  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Business
  • Religion
  • Baptist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Peggy Hardman, “Boyd, Henry Allen,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

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