On View
Segregation Gallery
Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation, 1876-1968
Manufactured by
Volkswagen, German, founded 1937
Used by
Jenkins, Esau, American, 1910 - 1972
Subject of
The Progressive Club, American, 1948 - 1989
H x W x D: 18 × 37 3/8 × 3 1/2 in. (45.7 × 94.9 × 8.9 cm)
The influential civil rights activists Esau and Janie B. Jenkins devoted their lives to the uplift of their Johns Island community. In 1948, the Jenkins helped to form the Progressive Club, a community social and activist organization. The Club served as a community center and grocery store in addition to providing literacy education and childcare for the racially oppressed and impoverished community of Johns Island. Under the leadership of Septima Clark and Bernice Robinson, the Jenkins developed the first Citizenship School at the Club in 1957 and helped to register thousands of Black voters across the Sea Islands.
This panel is from a 1966 Volkswagon microbus used by Esau Jenkins to provide transportation for the island residents. Jenkins used the bus rides to teach the passengers how to read and provided the education needed to pass voter registration tests designed to prevent African Americans from voting. Jenkins hand-painted his personal motto, "Love is Progress, Hate is Expensive," on the panel.
In 2019, the remaining microbus was excavated, preserved, and added to the National Historic Vehicle Register by the Jenkins family along with the Historic Vehicle Association, The NB Center for American Automative Heritage, and the Hagerty Drivers Foundation.
The rear engine panel to a 1966 Volkswagen Transporter microbus used by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins for the Progressive Club on John's Island, South Carolina. The panel is painted green. Two hinges are at the top of the panel. A silver handle is at the bottom center. A rust colored license plate is attached to the center of the panel.
Place used
Johns Island, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States, North and Central America
Transportation Vehicles
Civil Rights Movement
access doors
Associations and institutions
Civil rights
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Esau and Janie Bell Jenkins Family
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at NMAAHCDigiTeam@si.edu

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