The Jenkins Bus

We were in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday, where we leaned about Esau and Janie B. Jenkins. The couple lived on Johns Island adjacent to Charleston. The Jenkins were deeply religious and took the bible edict that we are our brothers keepers to heart.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s the Jenkins decided to buy a few VW buses to transport their own 13 children and others to school in Charleston. They also transported workers to their jobs in the city. While on the bus, they taught folks to read the part of the constitution they needed to know to register to vote. The Jenkins also operated a vegetable and fruit stand, restaurant, a portion of Atlantic Beach for African American access to public beaches and were instrumental in organizing the Progressive Club of Johns Island. The Progressive Club, consisting of a community grocery store, gas station, and recreation/education center, also housed one of the citizenship schools established throughout the South during the civil rights movement.

This VW bus sat in the Jenkins backyard for 40 years, but then was moved the Nationsl Mall to showcase the work if the Jenkins.

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