Chicago native Major General Rodney Boyd was recently selected as the highest-ranked officer in the Illinois National Guard. During the last 300 years, no man of color has ever held the title.
Boyd credited his family for his success. He has been married for 32 years, but his work ethic and steadfast rise through the system have earned him many accolades.
Boyd, a former Bellwood, IL police chief, earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree while grinding for 35 years in the military. He fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as a decorated combat soldier. Boyd began his career in the U.S. Marine Corps and later joined the Illinois Army National Guard.
Major General Richard Neely, an adjunct general for the State of Illinois, played down Boyd’s race and said that it was not the color of Boyd’s skin that earned him a promotion. Neely said that Boyd was a leader, having proven his ability as a brigadier general with a command over 10,000 troops.
However, it is Black History Month, and Boyd received his honor at Carver Military Academy on February 4th from Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.
“To be able to point out that this history will not be erased, we will continue to lift up and we will continue to celebrate accomplishments of Black Americans,” said Stratton.
As the highest-ranked person of color in the Illinois National Guard, Boyd said that he would seek to build up the ranks of this unit by recruiting people of color. Boyd said that he is passionate about having an inclusive organization.