Former White Supremacist Store and Klan Meeting Space is Being Turned Into a Community Center to Promote Healing
One of the surest ways to prevent history from repeating itself is to shine a light in its darkest corners, and that is exactly what the Reverend David Kennedy, 67, has set out to do in the city of Laurens, Carolina. from the south.
In 2019, the Reverend Kennedy and local historian Regan Freeman founded the Echo Foundation. Their mission: to transform a symbol of racial inequality into an opportunity for reconciliation and education. Their target: the historically segregated Echo Theater, later home to a store, museum, and recruiting center dedicated to glorifying white supremacy known as the Redneck Shop.
“For a black person in America, I have too many stories to share that people would not believe,” said Reverend Kennedy. told CNN. “Once you choose to speak, people start to fear us and you have to be willing to sacrifice your mind, your heart, your soul, to tell the truth about the story and what they did to our people. I was ready to make that sacrifice. “
Reverend Kennedy was instrumental in a lengthy legal battle to close the Redneck Shop. Your story may seem familiar. The part of his saga that chronicles his approach to a former enemy was made into the 2018 film ‘Burden’.
John Howard and Michael Burden were co-owners of the Redneck Shop. When Burden separated from the ranks of the KKK, Reverend Kennedy offered refuge and spiritual help to him and his family.
The Redneck Shop was closed by the courts in 2012. Instead of destroying its contents, many of the artifacts will be used as teaching points to engage in a meaningful and transformative conversation about all too recent history.
So far, Project Echo has raised close to $ 375,000 for its goal of restoration and revival of the Echo Theater. In addition to the museum, the space will house community classrooms.
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“We don’t want to just have a museum to tell this story, the fight for justice and the fight against the Klan, but we also want to detail what happened here to make sure it never happens again,” Freeman told CNN. “The Echo Theater went from being a segregated movie theater to a literal Klan shop to being owned by a black minister, and is about to become a place for reconciliation, justice and healing.”
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If you want to donate to Project Echo, you can go to GoFundMe here.
(WATCH the video about the project below).
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