Birmingham honors the Black businessman who quietly backed the Civil Rights Movement

Birmingham honors black businessman AG Gaston’s pivotal support for the civil rights movement with a restored motel bearing his name.

Background: The AG Gaston Motel was used by civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., as a place to strategize during the Birmingham Campaign in 1963.
* AG Gaston, a prominent African American businessman, provided the motel as a safe and secure location for leaders and posted bail for young demonstrators arrested during the movement.
* The renovated motel is set to open to the public this summer as the city marks the 60th anniversary of the Birmingham movement.

Gaston’s impact: Gaston was a prolific entrepreneur, starting over a dozen businesses to offer goods and services to the black community in Birmingham.
* His bank, Citizens Federal Savings and Loan, provided access to capital for the black community, enabling them to build homes, educate their children, and start their own businesses.
* Despite facing criticism for his approach, Gaston’s support was crucial to the civil rights movement in Birmingham.

Legacy and recognition: Birmingham is working to further honor Gaston’s contributions, with descendants pushing for a street named after him.
* The AG Gaston Motel and other landmarks of the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument are now under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

View original article on NPR

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