Arthur George Gaston, wealthy businessman and civil rights activist, was born on July 4, 1892 in Demopolis, Alabama to Tom and Rosa McDonald Gaston. He was raised by his former slave grandparents Joseph and Idella Gaston. In 1905 Arthur Gaston moved to Birmingham, where he attended the Tuggle Institute for black children. In 1910 he joined the army and during World War I served overseas in France. After his honorable discharge from the military, Gaston worked for Tennessee Coal and Iron Company in Fairfield, Alabama. While employed at the mine, Gaston became an entrepreneur, selling meals and affordable burial insurance to the black community.
Find a need and fill it