BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Reminders of Dr. A.G. Gaston’s influence remain prevalent in downtown Birmingham – not only in the buildings that once housed his businesses but also in the people whose lives he affected. Monday, some of those people will gather at a series of ceremonies to celebrate Gaston’s legacy.
The city is recognizing the 65th anniversary of the opening of the A.G. Gaston Motel, one of several businesses Gaston started in the area around 5th Ave. North. He also started the A.G. Gaston Boys Club, which later became the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club. Among the children who came through the program was Randall Woodfin, who went on to become Birmingham’s mayor. He’ll speak alongside other dignitaries at a birthday celebration for Gaston Monday afternoon.
“And all of these people really could tell a story about how my (great) grandfather impacted their lives,” Rochelle Gaston Malone said.
Malone and other family members organized the birthday celebration for Gaston, who was born July 4. This year marks the 126th anniversary of his birth. The event also serves as the kickoff for a new cause. They want to have a portion of 5th Ave. North named after Gaston in the place where his businesses were located.
“It was not only his businesses, but those were seeds to help cultivate and nurture and grow the the African American community,” Malone said.
But the street renaming is just the start of the family’s effort to extend Gaston’s legacy. They also hope to have an A.G. Gaston statue added to Kelly Ingram Park. And they plan to implement programs for economic development based on some of the philosophies he outlined in his ’10 Rules for Success.’ Malone says the family’s goal is to highlight his legacy and improve people’s lives.
“We’ve been silent. We’ve been kind of in the shadows, our family has been,” she said. “But now we’re stepping forward and we’re giving our family legacy a voice.”
The city will recognize Gaston’s legacy during a ceremony Monday morning by adding a street sign on 5th Ave. N. dedicated to his memory. It’s one of several events they’re holding throughout the day. See the picture below for a full list.
Check out the livestream below of the celebration.