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“J” is for Jenkins, Essau (1910-1972)

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“J” is for Jenkins, Essau (1910-1972). Civil rights activist. A native of Johns Island, Jenkins was forced to end his formal education in the fourth grade to help supplement his family’s income. When he saw the injustices that affected Black children on Johns Island, he bussed children and others to public schools in Charleston. In 1948, Jenkins founded the Progressive Club to educate Sea Island residents. In 1954 he attended the Highlander Folk School and with their assistance established a “Citizenship School” on Johns Island. The school was designed to teach adult African Americans to read so they could register to vote. The first school was a success and through Highlander created schools across the South. Shortly before his death Esau Jenkins was appointed to the state advisory committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.