Funeral arrangements announced for Lowcountry civil rights activist Abe Jenkins

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:20 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 12:15 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Progressive Club of Johns Island announced funeral services for civil rights leader Abe Jenkins.

Jenkins, 66, died Monday afternoon.

The organization said his funeral service will be held on Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. at St. Johns High School, 1518 Main Rd. on Johns Island, according to a post on the club’s Facebook page.

A public viewing will be held on Jan. 28 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Alfred Williams Community Center, located at 4441 Durant Ave. in North Charleston, the post states.

Tributes began pouring in Monday night as word spread of Jenkins’ passing from leaders in the Lowcountry and all the way to the nation’s capital.

Jenkins took part in a keynote panel last June on climate challenges for the Gullah Geechee Heritage, which was sponsored by the Newport Restoration Foundation.

His biography on their website states Jenkins, who was born on Nov. 1, 1955, worked for Obama for America and Organizing for America during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, working in Charleston, Dorchester, Colleton and Beaufort Counties.

The site also states he served two years as political director for the South Carolina Democratic Party.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison said he was “pure of heart and extremely loyal.”

“You could always depend on good ol’ Abe,” Harrison wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, who gave the keynote speech during Columbia’s MLK Day celebration Monday afternoon, called Jenkins a powerful force in state politics as well as a dear friend.

“His dedication to public service was fueled by his commitment to helping better the lives of those across the state,” he said.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg called Jenkins’ passing “a tragic loss” for the community.

“In the tradition of his renowned grandfather, Esau Jenkins, Abe lived a vital life of service and sacrifice and joy and love. He was a fine man and a deeply-committed servant leader whose legacy will be felt for generations to come, not only along the streets and shorelines of his beloved Johns Island, but across the width and breadth of our entire state,” Tecklenburg said. “It’s a tragic loss, for our community, but I think Abe would be pleased that the day he would leave us would be on Martin Luther King Jr Day.”

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard called it a sad day for the citizens in and around the Sea Islands and the state.

“Mr. Abe Jenkins was a man ahead of his time!” Gilliard said. “Like me and thousands of others he was looked up to as a civil rights leader, a historian, motivator and educator he will be sorely missed.”

State Senator Marlon Kimpson remembered Jenkins on Twitter.

“I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one any day,” he wrote. “Abe Jenkins was a living sermon and the epitome of a public servant. Simply put, he put in the work. Take your rest Abe and thank you for your service. We are much better off because you lived, sir.”

State Rep. JA Moore said he and Jenkins were both sons of the Civil Rights movement.

“His father’s legacy lived on through his commitment to being an agent of change,” Moore said on Twitter. “The Lowcountry, South Carolina & the entire country is a better place because he lived. Sending love & light to his family.”

Jenkins was the grandson of civil rights activist and Johns Island businessman Esau Jenkins, who worked directly with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1945, the elder Jenkins bought a bus to transport children and adults into the city of Charleston for schooling and jobs and established citizenship schools with the help of Septima Clark and held classes on the Sea Islands.

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