The 1966 Volkswagen Deluxe Station Wagon that was owned by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins will be on display as part of Cars at the Capital from September 20-26.
The Jenkins’ VW bus was an icon throughout their community and throughout the South. On the back panel of the car was painted the infamous saying of Mr. Esau: “Love is Progress, Hate is Expensive.” In 2014 the family donated the back hatch, along with the engine cover, to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture where it remains on permanent exhibit.
Esau and Janie B. Jenkins were pioneers before and during the civil rights movement. As business owners, community organizers, and founders of organizations and institutions, together they dedicated their lives to providing opportunities, and hope, to the people of Johns Island, SC and beyond.
In the 1940’s, using money from farming and selling produce, they would purchase buses to transport children to school and workers to jobs in Charleston, SC. During the bus rides, Esau and Janie B. would teach their adult passengers the information needed to pass the literacy exam so they could become registered voters. Along with others, they were responsible for The Progressive Club, a co-op started in 1948 that housed a grocery store, gas station, day care, and classroom space. Leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, participated in workshops there.
“The automobile has left an indelible mark in our culture and we believe America’s automotive heritage should never be lost nor forgotten,” said Diane Parker, Vice President of the Historic Vehicle Association. “To support that belief, our mission is to share America’s automotive heritage and to tell the human-interest stories behind the horsepower, share their cultural impact, and to ensure their histories are captured in perpetuity.”
The entire Cars at the Captital exhibit runs from September 12-26 and includes Alan Bean’s ’69 Stingray from September 12-19.
The exhibit is located between the National Gallery of Art and the National Air & Space Museum.