History is told through objects, and automobiles are important in telling the story of American life, the triumphs, and turmoil that were experienced in the twentieth century.
For fifteen days in September 2019, on America’s front lawn, the National Mall will be displayed two very different vehicles telling two very distinctly different stories of the USA in the 1960s. A 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray owned by Astronaut Alan Bean, and a 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus owned by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins, who worked to educate and better African Americans in South Carolina.
Aerospace – 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. On Display September 12 to 20.
Starting in 1961, General Motors offered a program to all astronauts – lease a Chevrolet Corvette for $1/year. Of the three custom-ordered 1969 Chevrolet Corvette 390-hp, 427 Stingray coupes, only this one formerly owned by Alan Bean survives.
The fourth human to walk on the moon, Alan Bean, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot in 1969, took part in the lease program. Alan Bean, along with his colleagues (all of which had a hand in designing the color scheme) chose a gold and black color combination. On the front left fender of each car was a red, white and blue plaque, in each square were: LMP, CDR, and CMP, to stand for the positions they held on the mission.
The 1969 Corvette Stingray will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C. September 12 to 20 as a part of the fifth annual Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) Cars at the Capital exhibition. After the exhibition, the vehicle will return to its private collection.
Civil Rights object – 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus on display September 20 to 27
A 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 bus, a now well-known 1960s symbol of freedom and peace, was used by Esau and Janie B. Jenkins. The couple worked to improve the lives of their African-American neighbors on Johns Island, South Carolina from the 1940s through the 1970s. Starting out by owning a farm and selling produce were troubled by the lack of opportunity and rights in his community.
The Jenkins taught Africa-Americans, aspects of the South Carolina state constitution. This was a requirement at the time for becoming registered voters, so they could pass the racial literacy exams required in the State of South Carolina. In addition to launching businesses that employed and served their community.
The couple launched businesses that employed and served their community, organized citizenship schools, and used their Volkswagen Type 2 bus to further their initiatives and advocacy. When Esau Jenkins died in 1972, the 1966 Volkswagen the Jenkinses had last used was parked in a backyard, where it remained until it was retrieved by the Historical Vehicle Association in 2019. In 2014, the family donated the back hatch, along with the engine cover, that sported their famous motto: “Love Is Progress; Hate Is Expensive.” to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. where it remains on permanent exhibit.
The 1966 Type 2 will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C. September 20 to 27 as a part of the fifth annual Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) Cars at the Capital exhibition. After the exhibition, the Historic Vehicle Association and professional conservators, working with Volkswagen, will work to preserve the bus to help keep a memento of the Jenkins’ work alive.
About the Historic Vehicle Association
“Ensuring our automotive heritage is never lost nor forgotten is paramount to the HVA mission. We are delighted to partner with Volkswagen and B. R. Howard to preserve this important microbus, and to fully document its rich history as part of our National Historic Vehicle Register,” said Diane Parker, Vice President of the Historic Vehicle Association.
The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage. In 2014, The HVA established the National Historic Vehicle Register in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior, Heritage Documentation Programs and Library of Congress, respectively, to document historically significant automobiles in America’s past. The HVA is supported by over 400,000 individual historic vehicle owners, key stakeholders and corporations as well as individual benefactors. Please visit www.historicvehicle.org.