Echo Project Converts KKK Museum Into a Place of Reconciliation

One of the best ways to ensure that history does not repeat itself is to share stories so we can learn and grow. In Laurens, South Carolina that is what 67-year-old Reverend David Kennedy is doing.

In 2019, Rev. Kennedy and local historian Regan Freeman established the Echo Foundation. Its mission is to transform a symbol of racial inequality into an opportunity for reconciliation and education.  The pair partnered to turn the Echo Theater, a former whites-only hall, white supremacy museum, and recruitment center known as The Redneck Shop into a sanctuary to host dialogues about racial reconciliation and the power of love.

Reverend Kennedy, told CNN, “To be a Black person in America, I have too many stories to share that people wouldn’t believe.”

Kennedy and the local Laurens County Branch of the National Association for Advancement Colored People fought a lengthy legal battle that closed The Redneck Shop. The story of Kennedy’s struggle and outreach is captured in the 2018 film Burden.

John Howard and Michael Burden were co-owners of The Redneck Shop. When Burden broke off his affiliation with the Klu Klux Klan, Rev. Kennedy and his family offered Burden sanctuary and spiritual support to him and his family.

In 2012 the store was closed by the courts. Rather than destroy the contents and memorabilia  in the store, Kennedy and Freeman have preserved many of the artifacts to be used for educational purposes as part meaningful transformative conversations about racial history.

Thus far, the Echo Project has raised nearly $375,000 toward its goal of restoring the Echo Theater into a museum that will house community classrooms.

“We don’t want to just have a museum to tell this story… we also want to detail what happened here to make sure it never happens again,” Freeman added, “and it is about to become a place for reconciliation, justice, and healing.”

To learn more about the Echo Project and donate to their work, please visit the GoFundMe page here.

Watch a video about the project below:

Source: The Echo Project