Who is Ladonna Boyd and the R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation? Knowing the Boyd Family is knowing black history as the Boyd Family established documents and documentation and processes that provided the structure, training, education, that are the backbone of the Baptist Church. The family is one of the “Coolest Black Families in America.” And don’t just take my word for it.
Ladonna currently serves as COO of R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation (RHBPC) and oversees technology, resources and assets, financial endeavors, investments, and personnel. This includes the endeavors of first minority-owned bank Citizens Bank and the operations and curriculum for the National Baptist Congress. Serving minorities and setting the standard for black-owned business, RHBPC recently celebrated 120 years of family business, making it the oldest minority-owned business in the country.
As we kick off 2017 I’d like to keep top of mind what we all should be working towards — family legacy and heritage. What will be your legacy?
RHBPC provides printing services for church supplies and literature. They also source and support writer endeavors in Christian publication. Before the internet, all documents had to be design, written, and printed — hymnals, bibles, programs, and workbooks, all were printed on the capital investments of Boyd Family printing presses, plates, and ink. All these skills are applicable today — find a need, fill a need, provide a product and service. The National Baptist Congress is a traveling Christian educational institute designed for leaders and workers in churches and denominations throughout the nation. The National Baptist Congress was founded as an educational arm of the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB), now known as R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation (RHBPC), for training church workers and leaders alike to effectively utilize the various resources for Christian education and discipleship.
For this reason, the family, and its product and equipment are included in the Nation Museum of African American History (NMAAH). To contribute to this important museum and black culture is a feat to be admired and I interviewed Ladonna to capture her thoughts directly.
Q. How were you alerted to participate in the exhibition?
A. This project has been several years in the making. I remember sending off documentation years and years ago about the museum. When the time came, one of the lead museum curators who is familiar with my family scheduled a field trip for the team. The curator team came down so they could see what they wanted to pull out some of our archives, and we provided them a tour of the office. The goal of the museum was to get the articles that are in people’s attics. What is it that all of us have that may have stored in families for down generations that may have historical value?
With a full view of our business and history, the team at NMAAH were able to put together how they wanted to represent our company.
While it was difficult to part with such personal items, we knew that seeing [our family history] in the NMAAH where literally millions can witness a piece of artistry vs. sitting in our office just made sense. Once you put in that perspective, it’s an easy decision.
It’s important that we learn ALL of our collective black histories, you know, whether it’s one contributing person in history, or if your whole family is famous, or if you’re the President and the First Lady, it doesn’t matter, everyone has contributed to the history of this company and history in general.
These items in original condition have been donated to the Smithsonian on behalf of the National African American Museum including:
- Publications, Newspapers, Articles, and a Sunday School Program from 1896
And an actual employee time clock:
Q: How was your visit to the NMAAH
“The NMAAH is very detailed extensive; I recommend wearing comfortable shoes. I have to go back because I didn’t get a chance to finish my tour. You start from the bottom of the lower portion of the museum, and you work your way up. The bottom of the museum was the belly of the beast if you will, starting from 1400-1500. It’s interesting, learning about the slave trade and showing the grim reality of our ancestors. The museum then works its way to the history of slavery, then the civil war, all the way through the World Wars, up through our first Black President and what are called “the new civil rights” that we are going through right now with inequality and police brutality.”
Q: How was the Opening Day Ceremony for the NMAAH you attended?
“I was sitting there talking to Oprah and Samuel L. Jackson, and all these fantastic people. It’s funny I was taking pictures, and I look back at my camera, and there’s a photo bomb from Robert D’ Niro. It was quite impressive to see all that first hand. It’s an honor to be included in the Opening Day Ceremony, to be in that space, to breathe the same air.”
Q: What other items are in the NMAAH?
“Anything we can imagine — from Bootsy Collins Mothership to actual counter tops from civil rights sit-ins. It’s amazing, makes you very, very proud to be black.”
The former Miss Black Tennessee enjoys motivational speaking, traveling, hiking, mission work, mediating, painting, and pursuing endeavors in ministry. She is also a devout yogi and promotes living a healthy lifestyle and using safer beauty products. Through our conversations, I learned how unregulated our beauty products are (The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938) and how much chemicals in our daily products and processes can contribute to ailments. She also recommended downloading an app called EWG Healthy Living on Apple and Android to scan your current beauty products and see how they rate on a level of toxicity (rating system is explained in the app).
Her personal mission is to use her voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and her passion is advocating for disenfranchised women, underprivileged youth, and the welfare of animals.