Table Of Contents
Ralph F. Boyd, Sr. is a lifelong social justice advocate well known for his commitment to civil rights, equality, civil service and local community activism within Schenectady, New York. Born in 1919 in Norfolk, V.A, and raised in Baltimore M.D, Boyd grew up in the segregated south during a time when discrimination and racism plagued many northern and southern communities. Although there were occasional hardships, the support and importance of family, along with the community of church, acted as Boyd’s savior. He credits both components for instilling strong moral values within him.
Upon graduating from Frederick Douglass High School, Boyd continued his education by attending Morgan College, now Morgan State University, in Baltimore. He was able to complete two years before World War II disrupted his college life. While serving in the U.S. Army, he was part of the all black (segregated) 366 Infantry Regiment that would later go on to be recognized and honored for its performance during the war.
Despite the fact that Boyd, and many other African-Americans, were willing to fight in the war for the cause of democracy and protection of their country, the reception these skilled veterans received upon returning home was not a welcoming one. Boyd returned home, realized that nothing had changed and was concerned.
Discontented with the status quo of society, following the war efforts abroad, Boyd decided that he would work to effect change. His first target would be the General Electric Co., a company which previously denied him employment when he first inquired about a job soon after the war. Boyd was told that he didn’t have the training to fulfill a position within the company in spite of his skilled experience in the U.S. Army. General Electric eventually began to hire African-Americans in 1948, including Boyd, but this would not be the end of the trouble that Boyd would endure, nor would it be the end of other problems that he noticed. Not only were African-Americans being treated unfairly, women were being treated unequally as well. Boyd began to defend his female co-workers who were not being paid the same as the men. Despite the obstacles placed forth, Boyd remained within General Electric. He would eventually become a prominent spokesperson and leader for the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers (IUE) Local 301 union as well as the foreman in the Turbine-Generator Department. He continued working for General Electric for 34 years, up until his retirement in 1982.
In addition to campaigning for change within General Electric, Ralph Boyd also worked within the local community of Schenectady to advocate change for the social, political and economic conditions for African-Americans. Noted for his local community activism, he was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968. Possessing both the passion and eagerness to see everybody within society treated equally, alongside his interest in community activities, Boyd, in company with friends and colleagues, established and developed the Schenectady chapter of the NAACP in 1950. Serving as the chapter’s president for several terms, in addition to undertaking the responsibility of each post within the organization during his years of involvement, Boyd promoted and supported initiatives for reform change in areas surrounding the housing “slums” within Schenectady. These initiatives include, but were not limited to, acquiring affordable housing for low income groups and improving the conditions within the slums to make the surroundings acceptable for proper living. In addition to his focus on housing, Boyd also campaigned for equality within education and was instrumental in the establishment of the Baptist Retirement Center in 1977. The Baptist Retirement Center, which is located in Scotia, New York, provides activities and medical care for seniors and is the result of Boyd’s desire to see a nursing home within the local community that would facilitate care for those elderly in need.
As a social justice advocate, Ralph Boyd’s work within the Schenectady community is both acknowledged and highly praised. He has won numerous awards, one which identified him as a Schenectady Patroon in 2008, an award that is the city’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize. General Electric named him a winner of the Gerald L. Phillippe Award for Distinguished Public Service in 1978.
The information provided above was gleaned from the following sources, in addition to
those found in the Ralph F. Boyd Sr. Papers themselves:
The Ralph Boyd, Sr. Papers document his social activism as member of the Schenectady branch of the NAACP and his professional work as an employee of the General Electric Co. in Schenectady, New York. The collection is comprised of General Electric manuals and Boyd’s personal work papers created during his time as a foreman in addition to news clippings and supplementary materials from the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers (IUE) Local 301. Furthermore, the collection contains materials and news clippings related to his work with the Schenectady branch of the NAACP, initiatives for low-income housing reform, and personal and professional correspondence.
The collection is organized alphabetically. There are no series.
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Boyd, Ralph Fredric
General Electric Company
International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Schenectady Branch
Community organization--New York (State)
Labor unions--New York (State)
Segregation in education
Slums--New York (State)
Social action--New York (State)
Genres and Forms
Bylaws (administrative records)
Files by subject
Manuals (instructional manuals)
Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Ralph F. Boyd, Sr. Papers, 1943-1992. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Boyd Papers).
Ralph F. Boyd, Sr. donated his papers to the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections in 1993.
Finding Aid Information
Created by: Shaquana McCall