Boyd, Herb 1938-
BOYD, Herb 1938-
PERSONAL: Born November 1, 1938, in Birmingham, AL; son of Clinton and Katherine Boyd; married first wife, Melba Joyce (marriage ended); married second wife, Elza (an author); children: (first marriage) John, Maya. Education: Wayne State University, Ph.D., 1969, graduate study, 1972-74; University of Iowa, graduate study, 1982-83.
ADDRESSES: Home—17199 San Juan Ave., Detroit, MI 48221.
CAREER: Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, instructor in Afro-American studies and anthropology, 1967-72; Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, instructor in anthropology and ethnomusicology, 1970-72; Wayne State University, instructor in black studies, 1972-77; Center for Creative Studies, Detroit, instructor in black history and sociology, 1979; U.S. Census Bureau, Detroit, supervisor of office operations, 1980; Detroit Metro Times, Detroit, associate editor, 1981; Wayne State University, instructor in history and sociology, 1982; University of Iowa, Iowa City, instructor in Afro-American studies and history, 1983; African-American history teacher at College of New Rochelle, c. 1997. President of Jazz Research Institute, 1979. Conducted field work in Guatemala, Tanzania, Kenya, the West Indies, and the Middle East.
AWARDS, HONORS: Board of governors scholarship, Wayne State University, 1967-69; faculty research grant, Wayne State University, 1975; grants from Detroit Council of the Arts, 1981, Michigan Council for the Arts, 1983; journalism award, with Michael Eric Dyson, 1993, for article in Emerge magazine; American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1995, for Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America.
Detroit: A Young Guide to the City, Writers & Readers (New York, NY), 1971.
(Editor) Roots: Some Student Perspectives; Readings in Black History and Culture, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1977.
(With Barbara Weinberg) Jazz Space Detroit, Jazz Research Institute (Detroit, MI), 1980.
The Former Portuguese Colonies in Africa (for children), F. Watts (New York, NY), 1981.
(With Leni Sinclair) Detroit Jazz Who's Who, Jazz Research Institute (Detroit, MI), 1983.
African History for Beginners (nonfiction comic book), Writers & Readers (New York, NY), 1991.
(Editor, with Robert L. Allen) Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1995.
Down the Glory Road (history), Avon (New York, NY), 1995.
(Author of introduction) The Souls of Black Folk, Modern Library (New York, NY), 1996.
(Author of introduction) Strong Men Keep Coming: The Book of African American Men, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1999.
(Compiler) Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African-American History Told by Those Who Lived It, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor) Race and Resistance: African Americans in the Twenty-first Century, South End Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
(Editor) The Harlem Reader: A Celebration of New York's Most Famous Neighborhood, from the Renaissance Years to the Twenty-first Century, foreword by Howard Dodson, Three Rivers Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including Black World, Emerge, Essence, Down Beat, First World, and Black Scholar. Former editor of online magazine Black World Today.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Soul's Journey, for Doubleday.
SIDELIGHTS: Herb Boyd is an educator and expert on African and African-American history whose continuing concern for the lack of published writings by black authors has led him to edit a number of anthologies by such writers, including the American Book Award-winning Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America, which he edited with Robert L. Allen. Containing a mix of over one hundred essays by both famous (Malcolm X, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.) and new and upcoming black writers, the anthology covers subjects ranging from racism and family relationships to music and sports. Positively received by reviewers—a Publishers Weekly contributor called Brotherman an "outstanding collection" that is "a distinguished addition to black studies"—the book, Boyd felt, helped to encourage the publishing industry to release more writings by African Americans. Yet he noted in an interview with Claire E. White on the Writers Write Web site that "racism still permeates the society and so it is understandable that Black men will not be a topic of concern [in publishing]—unless it is yet another attempt to denigrate us—especially when the hundreds of sales divisions at the publishing houses have already decided that Black men don't buy books. Brotherman and other books have dispelled this myth."
Boyd followed Brotherman with other anthologies, such as Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African-American History Told by Those Who Lived It and Race and Resistance: African Americans in the Twenty-first Century. The former includes essays, slave narratives, and excerpts from memoirs and autobiographies covering three hundred years of American history, while Race and Resistance contains essays by African-American scholars and writers such as Angela Davis and Amiri Baraka. Reviewers have praised these collections, including Library Journal contributor Sherri Barnes, who called Autobiography of a People "an original and triumphant collection" that is "remarkable in its inclusiveness."
Boyd has also written books on African-American history, including the unique African History for Beginners, which uses the comic-book form to make it more accessible to young reluctant readers. An expert on jazz music, Boyd has written several books on this subject, including Detroit Jazz Who's Who, written with Leni Sinclair. He also has been a regular contributing writer to Down Beat magazine.
In the late 1990s, Boyd became involved in Internet publishing as the editor of the online Black World Today, which addressed issues of interest to the African-American community. Although Boyd told White back in 1997 that the online publication was "among the most prominent Black sites on the Internet" at the time, his prediction that the site would go under because of lack of investors unfortunately proved prophetic. Although African Americans have been buying a lot of computers in recent years, according to Boyd, the problem was whether or not they were using them to surf the Internet for sites that would be relevant to them. As Boyd commented, "When they come online are they supporting Black sites? Getting on the Internet is only half the battle. Where to go when you get there is the most important thing."
Despite the lack of support for his online publication, Boyd continues to help black writers get noticed by editing collections of their works, including, most recently, the well-received The Harlem Reader: A Celebration of New York's Most Famous Neighborhood, from the Renaissance Years to the Twenty-first Century.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Visions, April-May, 1995, T. Andreas Spelman, review of Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America, p. 34.
Booklist, February 15, 1995, Greg Burkman, review of Brotherman, p. 1053.
Library Journal, March 15, 1995, Anita L. Cole, review of Brotherman, p. 90; November 1, 1999, Emily J. Jones and Ann Burns, review of Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African-American History Told by Those Who Lived It, p. 106; January, 2000, Sherri Barnes, review of Autobiography of a People, p. 130; November 1, 2002, Ann Burns, review of Race and Resistance: African Americans in the Twenty-first Century, p. 115.
New York Times, "Off the Train to Harlem, Street Peddling in SoHo," p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, January 23, 1995, review of Brotherman, p. 51.
School Library Journal, August, 1981, Kathleen Mc-Callum, review of The Former Portuguese Colonies in Africa, p. 62.
Writers Write, http://www.writerswrite.com/ (November, 1997), Claire E. White, "Interview with Herb Boyd."*