This past June 19, R.H. Boyd Publishing, which was founded by formerly enslaved Dr. Richard Henry Boyd and recently celebrated 125 years of printing and publishing, released Rosa Parks Beyond the Bus: Life, Lessons, and Leadership.
The book is a collection of vignettes and pieces of wisdom from the author H.H. Leonards’ friendship with Rosa Parks. The two became friends in 1994, after Rosa Parks stayed at Leonads’ Mansion on O Street in Washington, D.C., when Parks needed a place to stay after being attacked.
Below is an interview with both the author H.H. Leonards and president and CEO of R.H. Boyd Publishing, Dr. LaDonna Boyd.
Q. Your book shares stories we often don’t hear about Rosa Parks. Why do you think it’s important to share stories about her, specifically stories that go “beyond the bus?”
A. Her time is now, more than ever. The lessons she taught are more important to absorb than ever.
- “Keep it simple.”
- “Measure your words with grace.”
- “Live an exemplary life” (so no one can use the past against you).
- “Love is all that matters.”
- “Economic freedom ends racism.”
- “Education is the path to a better life. But education takes on different forms for different people.”
- “Measure your words through faith.”
Q. How did your partnership with R.H. Boyd Publishing begin? Why did you choose to work with them to release this book?
A. Once I learned about the company and its rich legacy, it was the only place I looked at to publish this book. R.H. Boyd is mission driven and faith based. It is run by a woman and is a proud family business, and the oldest existing African-American publisher in the country. R.H. Boyd is a trailblazer, much like Mrs. Parks. I was just interviewed by CNBC and told them the same.
Q. You mentioned that when you first met Rosa Parks, you didn’t know she was a civil rights icon. Do you think this would have made a difference in your relationship?
A. Absolutely! I would have been afraid of her. I would have kept my distance, thinking she was too important for me to talk with. God works in mysterious ways.
Q. How did you eventually come to realize who she was? Did it change anything about your relationship?
A. One of our guests at the Mansion on O Street told me what she had done, not her friends or staff. I was very embarrassed. It took me a while to get up the nerve to tell her how sorry I was. What she said in response was glorious: “Now you can travel with me!” And so our journey together expanded beyond the safety of the Mansion and O Museum.
H.H. Leonards is the founder and chair of the O Street Museum Foundation, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and the Mansion on O Street, where Mrs. Rosa Parks called her home-away-from-home for the last decade of her life. Leonards is a wife, mother of three, and friend to celebrities and everyday people alike. The Purdue University alumna established The Mansion in 1980 to provide a unique and eclectic forum where clients learn from one another and foster the development of diversity, the creative process and the human spirit.
Dr. LaDonna Boyd
Q. R.H. Boyd Publishing is celebrating 125 years in the publishing world. What does it mean to carry on this meaningful legacy?
A. There are not many businesses that make it for five generations within the same family. We have been fortunate to have this level of success, and I believe that it comes from being mission oriented. We focus on the importance of telling stories. Even though there are constant changes in mediums and technology, adaptability and consistency are key. We represent what it means to create generational legacy and wealth, and I hope that our story can be an example to other families and entrepreneurs.
Q. What intrigued you about Rosa Parks Beyond the Bus: Life, Lessons, and Leadership?
A. This is such an interesting story at a very relevant and troubling time in history. Most of us are very familiar with the instance of Mrs. Parks not giving up her seat, but most are not familiar with how that impacted her journey for the rest of her life. Getting this type of first-hand experience from someone that had a close bond with her later in life, we can glean from her wisdom and ensure that her legacy lives on for future generations.
Q. What’s next for R.H. Boyd?
A. We have several new titles coming out within the next year. We are also launching multimedia platforms, including a podcast, enhancing our YouTube offerings, and hosting in-person events, such as our leadership training conference, the Vision Conference, June 16-18, 2022, in Nashville, TN.
As president and CEO of R.H. Boyd Publishing, Dr. LaDonna Boyd is shaping and leading R.H. Boyd’s efforts to broaden its scope and offerings for modern needs. With a targeted focus on product development, technology, commercial (non-religious) printing opportunities and author resources, Dr. Boyd has been preparing for a number of years to take the reins as a CEO—cultivating a wide range of skills necessary to lead the R. H. Boyd through a new generation.
Dr. Boyd completed her doctoral studies at Pepperdine University, where she received the Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Leadership. She is also a graduate of Spelman College, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics, and Tennessee State University, where she completed a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Finance. She is committed to continued professional development, including earning a certificate in Digital Marketing Strategy from Harvard University’s Extension School. Dr. Boyd has traveled extensively around the globe and earned recognition for community engagement and service, and she is a proud, active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She also serves on various boards, including Citizens Bank, the National Museum of African American Music, the Nashville Ballet, and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.
You can purchase your copy of Rosa Parks Beyond the Bus: Life, Lessons, and Leadership here.