Welcome to the progressive club!
The Progressive Club was founded in 1948 as a center for education, voter registration and civil rights on John’s Island. Today a diverse group of Islanders are working tirelessly to revitalize the organization and establish it as a center of history and hope on John’s Island.
Image provided courtesy of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.
The Progressive Club was established by Esau Jenkins and Joe Williams of the second World War to help raise the class consciousness of community members on John’s Island. Jenkins was a John’s Island native. He left school in the fourth grade to work on a farm with his father. He also learned Greek to facilitate sales between Greek store owners in Charleston who purchased the produce he and his family grew. He was dedicated to improving conditions for and providing opportunities for members of his community. He also purchased a bus to transport children from the island to the Charleston peninsula, so they could attend the Black public schools there. Later, he purchased additional buses to transport people to work in the city. Travelers participated in political education during their commutes. To prepare them to pass the qualifications to vote they were taught to read the part of the Constitution that was included on the voter registration form. This initiative contributed significantly to the number of registered Black voters in the area.
to foster a continuing legacy of intergenerational education, empowerment and community service in the Lowcountry and beyond.