January 10, 2023
Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation to Showcase A 1966 Volkswagen Deluxe Station Wagon “Micro Bus” as part of the Hagerty Drivers Foundation’s National Historic Vehicle Register Display
Vehicle will be on display January 14 through Summer 2023
(Dearborn, Mich. – January 10, 2023) Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, in partnership with the Hagerty Drivers Foundation’s National Historic Vehicle Register, will welcome a rotating selection from the Register’s prestigious group of significant American automobiles. This special pop-up will showcase a new vehicle from the Register every six months. On January 14, the next vehicle to be featured is a 1966 Volkswagen Deluxe Station Wagon “Micro Bus,” the primary means of transportation for a couple at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina.
In the 1940s, Esau and Janie B. Jenkins, a married couple from Johns Island, South Carolina, set forth to improve the lives of African Americans in their state. Motivated to make a difference, the Jenkins established the Progressive Club in 1948, a community center and co-op that provided everything from voter and literacy education to childcare and a place to purchase groceries.
Through the course of their work, the Jenkins helped register thousands of African American voters on the Sea Islands working with Civil Rights leaders Septima Clark and Bernice Robinson. The Jenkins, Clark and Robinson would go on to develop a Citizenship School at the Progressive Club in 1957—the first of many in the South during the Civil Rights Movement. Among their countless acts of advocacy to uplift the community, the Jenkins went on to establish the Citizens’ Committee of Charleston County and founded the C.O. Credit Union to give African Americans access to fair financial services.
The 1966 Volkswagen became the Jenkins’ primary means of transportation and even sported Esau’s motto: Love is Progress, Hate is Expensive. This phrase was hand painted on the rear engine cover and hatch and the words “Citizens’ Committee” covered the sides of the green vehicle. This Volkswagen became a fixture in the Charleston area and a symbol for change and social justice.
In 2014, the Jenkins family donated the rear panels with Esau’s moto to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.
In 2019, the Historic Vehicle Association (now the Hagerty Drivers Foundation) and the family decided to preserve the vehicle as an unrestored artifact rather than restore it to operating condition. Today, the vehicle remains in the care of the Jenkins family.
This special display is included with admission to Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. For more information, visit thf.org or follow The Henry Ford on social media @thehenryford.
About The Henry Ford
Located in Dearborn, Michigan, The Henry Ford, a globally recognized destination, fosters inspiration and learning from hands-on encounters with artifacts that represent the most comprehensive collection anywhere focusing on innovation, ingenuity and resourcefulness in America. Its unique venues include Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Benson Ford Research Center and Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school. Together with its online presence at thf.org, its national television series The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation and Invention Convention Worldwide, the growing affiliation of organizations fostering innovation, invention and entrepreneurship in K-12 students, The Henry Ford inspires individuals to unlock their potential and help shape a better future.
About The Hagerty Drivers Foundation’s National Historic Vehicle Register
The National Historic Vehicle Register records the important history of America’s significant automobiles, preserving their information for future generations in perpetuity at the Library of Congress. Following the model of preservation work and legislation that has existed at the federal level for significant buildings, bridges, and airplanes, but never cars, the Historic Vehicle Association (now the Hagerty Drivers Foundation) initiated a collaboration with the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2013 to include automobiles in the Historic American Engineering Record through a National Historic Vehicle Register program. Following criteria set forth by the Heritage Documentation Programs and the Secretary of the Interiors Standards, many more vehicles will be added in the future.