Dr. A. G. Gaston
A.G. Gaston, a Black Birmingham millionaire, who is one of the most important heroes of the civil rights movement yet one of the least known and unappreciated, will be honored at 3 p.m. June 30th at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institutein Birmingham, Alabama.
The opening reception is titled “A. G. Gaston: The Man and His Legacy” and it will include a book signing of “Black Titan: A .G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire” by Carol Jenkins,the Emmy award-winning producer and television journalist.
My parents grew up in Birmingham, where my older brother lives, and they told me about Mr. Gaston.
Years later, I read “Black Titan” and learned about the vital role he played in the Birmingham civil rights movement, including bailing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. out of jail. Their friendship in this instance did not stop Gaston and King from nearly coming to blows over some dispute.
Mr. Gaston built a $40 million business empire that included a savings and loan bank, a business college, a construction company, a real estate business, a burial insurance company, two cemeteries, two radio stations and a motel where leaders of the civil rights movement stayed.
Gaston opened a branch of his Citizens Federal Savings Bank in Eutaw, Alabama in 1980 at the urging of Greene County leaders. Gaston’s bank was merged into Citizens Trust Bank, based in Atlanta, Georgia in 2002. Gaston was one of the first advertisers in the Greene County Democrat
when it was taken over by Black owners in 1985.
• “The Encyclopedia of Alabama” said Mr. Gaston had a knack for seeing a business need and filling it.