Roderick Royal to Present Mentoring the A.G. Gaston Way at the Birmingham Public Library in October

It’s been 40 years, but Roderick Royal still vividly remembers the day when at age 11, while visiting the A.G. Gaston Boys Club on Seventh Avenue North, he asked the black millionaire who founded the club if he could drive his car. “He said, ‘Sure,’ and as he reached for his keys I asked how much he would pay me. Dr. Gaston told me, 'You don’t get paid for everything you do.' It was the first of many lessons Dr. Gaston taught me and many other boys.”

In October, Royal will share other advice he gained from a friendship that started when Royal was 11 until Dr. Gaston's death at age 103 in a series of talks titled Mentoring the A.G. Gaston Way that he will give at the Birmingham Public Library.

Schedule of Programs
Smithfield Branch Library, Wednesday, October 12, 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, Thursday, October 13, noon
Five Points West Regional Branch Library, Sunday, October 16, 3:00 p.m.
Pratt City Branch Library, Wednesday, October 19, 6:00 p.m.

After each discussion about lessons both the young and old can learn from Gaston, Royal will sign copies of his new book, A.G. & Me: Intersection Road and Friendship with A.G. Gaston. His 70-page book is available for $16.99 at Books-A-Million and online on the store’s website.

Gaston, who was born on July 4, 1892, is well known for his phenomenal story of rising from poverty in rural Alabama to building a business empire that included a bank, insurance company, funeral home, business school, hotel, funeral home, and other entities. But Royal’s book shows a personal side of the millionaire who was known for his giving spirit (he gave away much of his businesses to employees through establishing an employee stock option plan).

“Through my book, I show a side of Dr. Gaston that not many people know about,” Royal said. “He was a great influence in my life. My hope is that in this lecture other people can help mentor our youth.”