Hall, Henry Boyd (1899–1974)

By: Lenora Rolla

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1995

Updated: September 16, 2020

Henry Boyd Hall, equal rights advocate, was born to Thomas Edward and Annie (Boyd) Hall at Palestine, Texas, in 1899. His father was a traveling minister from Tennessee. After graduating from the all-Black Lincoln High School at Palestine, Hall earned degrees from Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical and Dental College. He worked as a dining-car waiter during the summers to help pay his tuition. After graduation in 1923 he practiced dentistry in Seguin, Texas, for twelve years. There he participated in the founding of that city's first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1937 Hall and his wife, Olivia Williams Hall, a teacher, moved to Corpus Christi, where Hall practiced dentistry for thirty-six years. At the time they arrived Corpus Christi's Black population lived in an area bounded by Winnebago Street, Port Avenue, and the railroad tracks along West Broadway. Most of the homes in this area were substandard. Blacks were prohibited from living in other parts of the city through restrictive covenants and other discriminatory practices. Hall became active in the fight to achieve better housing conditions for Blacks. In the mid-1950s he became the first Black to build and own a home on Ocean Drive. At about the same time he encouraged many Blacks to move across Port Avenue into the Hillcrest subdivision. These unpopular actions resulted in several threats on his life and his home. Later he worked with developers, realtors, and financiers to develop the Greenwood Park subdivision, which was established to provide moderate-income housing. Subsequent appeals to the city council for more such housing resulted in additions to the Leathers Public Housing Project. These residential developments were designed to give Corpus Christi's Black population the opportunity to live in a new degree of dignity. Hall spearheaded several movements to end various forms of segregation at city institutions, including the post office department, the naval station, Del Mar College, Texas A&I (now A&M) University at Kingsville, the Corpus Christi Independent School District, and the local office of the Internal Revenue Service. Hall was a member of St. Matthew's Baptist Church and served as president of the Corpus Christi chapter and the state conference of the NAACP. Over the course of his career he received many awards, including the 1953 Zeta Phi Beta's Man of the Year, the 1969 Martin Luther King Humanitarian award, the San Antonio NAACP's 1973 award for meritorious service, an appreciation award from Meharry Medical and Dental College, and other citations from the American G.I. Forum and the Human Relations Commission. Hall died of esophageal cancer on January 4, 1974. He had one son.

Corpus Christi Caller, December 6, 1974.

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders

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

Lenora Rolla, “Hall, Henry Boyd,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 13, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hall-henry-boyd.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1995
September 16, 2020

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