The grandson of
slaves, born into poverty in 1892 in the Deep South, A. G. Gaston died more
than a century later with a fortune worth well over $130 million and a business
empire spanning communications, real estate, and insurance. Gaston was, by any
measure, a heroic figure whose wealth and influence bore comparison to J. P.
Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. Here, for the first time, is the story of the life
of this extraordinary pioneer, told by his niece and grandniece, the
award-winning television journalist Carol Jenkins and her daughter, Elizabeth
Born at a time when
the bitter legacy of slavery and Reconstruction still poisoned the lives of
black Americans, Gaston was determined to make a difference for himself and his
people. His first job, after serving in the celebrated all-black regiment
during World War I, bound him to the near-slavery of an Alabama coal mine—but
even here Gaston saw not only hope but opportunity. He launched a business
selling lunches to fellow miners, soon established a rudimentary bank—and from
then on there was no stopping him. A kind of black Horatio Alger, Gaston let a
single, powerful question be his guide: What do our people need now? His
success flowed from an uncanny genius for knowing the answer.
family lore with a deep knowledge of American social and economic history,
Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Hines unfold Gaston’s success story against the
backdrop of a century of crushing racial hatred and bigotry. Gaston not only
survived the hardships of being black during the Depression, he flourished, and
by the 1950s he was ruling a Birmingham-based business empire. When the
movement for civil rights swept through the South in the late 1950s and early
1960s, Gaston provided critical financial support to many activists.
At the time of his death in 1996, A. G.
Gaston was one of the wealthiest black men in America, if not the wealthiest.
But his legacy extended far beyond the monetary. He was a man who had proved it
was possible to overcome staggering odds and make a place for himself as a
leader, a captain of industry, and a far-sighted philanthropist. Writing with
grace and power, Jenkins and Hines bring their distinguished ancestor fully to
life. Black Titan is the story of a man who created his own
future—and in the process blazed a future for all black businesspeople in
America. Download and start listening now!