The Founder

ESAU JENKINS

1910 – 1972
PROGRESSIVE CLUB FOUNDER

— © Thomas Nebbia/National Geographic Creative

 

“I am a native of Johns Island… I have been trying to obliterate ignorance, to promote health and social, educational and civic welfare and to combat juvenile delinquency – to secure a more rich and abundant life for ourselves and for posterity… the people with whom I work are some of the poorest ones on God’s earth, I believe. Because of these conditions, we have obligated ourselves and denied ourselves and borrowed and begged for money to help build a center that our boys and girls and adults can use. It’s the one place on the island where they can play basketball, table tennis and other games…”

  • Left school in 4th grade to help his father farm
  • Took classes in Greek to sell to Greek-speaking vegetable store owners in Charleston
  • Purchased a bus to transport island children into Charleston to attend the black public high school
  • Purchased additional buses to transport people into Charleston to work.
  • During the commute riders were taught to read the part of the Constitution found on voter registrations, enabling more blacks to register to vote.