The Jenkins 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 Deluxe Microbus
Jun 17, 2022—Jan 5, 2023
National Historic Vehicle #26. The Jenkins 1966 Volkswagen Type II Deluxe Station Wagon Microbus is now on display at the AACA Museum, Inc. Although at a glance the vehicle may seem ordinary, its significant role in US civil rights history cannot be overstated.
Esau and Janie B. Jenkins
Original owners Esau and Janie B. Jenkins dedicated their lives to the betterment of the economic, cultural, and political situation of African Americans on Johns Island, SC, and the surrounding area. In 1948 the Jenkins established the Progressive Club, providing voter and literacy education, childcare, and a grocery store. Soon after, they launched a bus line to help transport poverty-stricken people of the community. Using the Microbus trips as teaching time, the civil rights pioneers taught passengers the reading and writing skills necessary to pass the literacy tests required to vote.
It is worthy to note that the Jenkins also transported South Carolina civil rights leaders Septima Clark (often called the “Mother of the Movement”) and Bernice Robinson. Additionally, Martin Luther King, Jr. visited with the Jenkins to understand how they empowered the people of the community to read, write, and vote. Esau’s motto is emblazoned on this 1966 Volkswagen’s rear hatch: “Love is Progress, Hate is Expensive.”
The Microbus Rescue
Following Esau’s passing in 1972, his family parked the VW in their Johns Island backyard, where it sat for 47 years until rescued and displayed on the National Mall in 2019. The rescue was undertaken by the Hagerty Drivers Foundation in cooperation with the Jenkins family, The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage, Jenkins family friend Joe Boykin and the College of Charleston. Stabilization work of the vehicle was performed by The NB Center for American Automotive Heritage. The display of this historic vehicle involves a key local connection as well. Museum member Brian Howard’s team at B.R. Howard & Associates in Carlisle, PA performed much of the preservation work, uncovering additional lettering, stabilizing the paint, finishes, and remaining interior materials.
- View the video of the vehicle rescue.
- Listen to the CurtCo podcast about the Jenkins VW Microbus.
- The Jenkins VW video
Volunteers involved with preparing the Jenkins 1966 Volkswagen for display were Rick Close, Rich Spina, Craig Newton, Jay Leininger, and Lynn Shaffer.
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