Author, educator and journalist Herb Boyd was born on November 1, 1938 in Birmingham, Alabama. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Wayne State University in the 1960s. Boyd went on to graduate with his B.A. degree in philosophy from Wayne State University in 1969.
From 1968 through 1977, Boyd worked as an instructor in African American Studies and Anthropology at Wayne State University. He was also appointed as an instructor of anthropology and ethnomusicology at Oberlin College from 1970 until 1972. In 1979, Boyd was hired as a lecturer in black history and sociology at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and was named president of the Jazz Research Institute. He then worked briefly as the supervisor of office operations at the U.S. Census Bureau in Detroit, and as an associate editor for the Metro Times. In 1983, Boyd took graduate courses at the University of Iowa, and lectured there in the Black Studies Department. He has also written numerous articles since the 1980s as a freelance journalist for publications such as the New York Amsterdam News, Black World, Emerge, Essence, Down Beat, First World, and The Black Scholar.
In 1986, Boyd was hired as an instructor of African American history at the College of New Rochelle. Then, in the 1990s, he served as the editor of The Black World Today, an online news source that addressed issues of interest to the African American community. Boyd was then hired as a lecturer at the City College of New York in 2005.
Boyd has authored, co-authored, edited or co-edited twenty-three books, including Jazz Space Detroit: Photographs of Black music, jazz, and dance; African History for Beginners; Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America; Down the Glory Road; Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African-American History Told by Those Who Lived It; Race and Resistance: African Americans in the Twenty-first Century; The Harlem Reader: A Celebration of New York's Most Famous Neighborhood, from the Renaissance Years to the Twenty-first Century; We Shall Overcome: the history of the civil rights movement as it happened; Pound for Pound: A Biography of Sugar Ray Robinson; The Gentle Giant: The Autobiography of Yusef Lateef; Civil Rights: Yesterday & Today; By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented; Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till; and Baldwin's Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin, which was a 2009 NAACP Image Award finalist.
Boyd has also received many awards, including the American Book Award (with Robert Allen), a journalism award for an article he wrote for Emerge magazine in 1993, and several first-place awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists for articles he has published in the New York Amsterdam News. Boyd has also been inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame, and, in 2014, the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
Herb Boyd was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 9, 2013.