Sunday, July 04, 2010
Arthur George Gaston (July 4, 1892 – January 19, 1996) was an African-American businessman who established a number of businesses in Birmingham, Alabama and who played a significant role in the struggle to integrate Birmingham in 1963.
Born in a log cabin in Demopolis, Alabama, to Tom and Rosa McDonald Gaston, but he grew up in his grandparents home, Joe and Idella Gaston. He moved to Birmingham in 1905 with the Loveman family, who employed his mother as a cook. He served in the army in France in World War I, then went to work in the mines run by Tennessee Coal & Iron Co. in Fairfield, Alabama. He hit on the plan of selling lunches to his fellow miners, then branched into loaning money to them at twenty-five percent interest. While still working at the mine he began offering burial insurance to co-workers and to the community Smith&Gaston.
Read David T. Beito's review of Black Titan: A. G. Gaston and the Making of a Black Millionaire by Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Gardner Hines, free from the Independent Institute.