Apr 22nd 2022

In Her Words: Janice Kennedy, co-Founder of The Echo Project and Educator.

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning. In the case of Janice Kennedy, she has dedicated her entire career to educating special needs students. Educated at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina, and The George Peabody College for Teachers in...


Mar 23rd 2022

A former KKK headquarters terrorized a town for years. Now it will become a diversity center

The Rev. David Kennedy remembers well what it was like growing up in Laurens, South Carolina, during the Jim Crow era. He lived in an apartment with his grandparents marked “C” for “colored” and was forced off sidewalks when white people would pass.

He recalls going into a shop one day as a kid to...


Mar 18th 2022

South Carolina Artist Spotlight: Torreah “Cookie” Washington

BY MEL LEE-SMITH

“Is your work speakin’ for ya?” This is a question Reverend David Kennedy — President of The Echo Project and pastor of New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church — routinely asks his congregation. And it’s also a question Moroccan-born quilter Torreah “Cookie” Washington’s work can...


Feb 1st 2022

Black pastor transforming theater with racist past into place where diversity is celebrated

Growing up, Rev. David Kennedy had to sit in the segregated section of his local movie theater in Laurens, South Carolina. The Echo Theater later became a Ku Klux Klan headquarters and an international meeting spot for hate groups until the Reverend made an unlikely friendship with the theater’s for...


Dec 22nd 2021

ORAL HISTORIES: Providing a Voice for Hidden Histories

Interview by Sterling Eason

Often described as “the first kind of history,” oral histories pass on knowledge, memory, and experience by word of mouth. They are a way of gathering, recording, and preserving a diverse range of personal experiences that generally are not well documented. In addition,...


Nov 20th 2021

The Redneck Shop was a hub for the KKK. Years after the store's closure, a Southern city is reckoning with this history

A grassroots organization is forcing a South Carolina city to reckon with its history of White supremacy -- a past some residents would rather leave buried.
Since 2019, the Echo Project has been working to convert the building that once housed "the world's only Klan museum" into a center for rememb...


May 28th 2021

Once-segregated Laurens theater shines with new marquee sign, vision for the future

For the first time in more than 25 years, the Echo Theater took its marquee from darkness to light, illuminating across downtown Laurens at an event last night as a symbolic first step in transforming the theater into a space for healing and forgiveness.

In May 1996, Reverend David Kennedy, Pastor...


May 4th 2021

A New Sound for the Echo

The film “Burden” tells the story of an unlikely friendship between the Rev. David Kennedy and Michael Burden, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. Through The Echo Project, Kennedy and others are transforming an old movie theater that used to sell racist paraphernalia in Laurens, South Carolina, in...


Apr 6th 2021

Watch: South Carolina Minister Removes Hate From Former KKK Shop

The Echo Project is helping to transform America's most infamous Klan museum in Laurens, South Carolina, into a place for diversity, remembrance and hope.

ABC News - Continue Reading


Feb 17th 2021

Transforming a white supremacist meeting hall into a center for diversity and reconciliation

In the "CBS This Morning" series "Unifying America," Adriana Diaz reports on an effort to transform a former white supremacist meeting hall into a center for diversity and reconciliation. Warning: some of the images in this video are upsetting.

CBS News - Continue Reading


Jan 16th 2021

A former White supremacist store and Ku Klux Klan meeting space is being turned into a community center to promote healing

A South Carolina preacher and local resident are turning what once was a Ku Klux Klan meeting place into a community center dedicated to educating and fighting against racial injustice.

CNN - Continue Reading


Jan 8th 2021

Once the ‘World’s Only Klan Museum,’ it is becoming a center for history and healing

Regan Freeman was born in 1996 — the same year the notorious Redneck Shop opened its doors in Laurens, S.C.

A glaring swastika was mounted on the back wall, while Confederate flags and other symbols of hate decorated the 4,000-square-foot space that was once a segregated movie theater.

Washingto...


Jan 7th 2021

SC theater where white supremacists met may become center focused on racial healing

LAURENS — It’s such an unlikely tale, one that reveals the deep racial fault lines of a small Upstate town and reactivates fears of the violence and hate endured by older African Americans in this place.

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Jan 5th 2021

Cache of Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi propaganda to be added to Echo Theater collection

The old Echo Theater in this small Upstate town started out as a segregated movie house. Black people entered through a side door and were relegated to the balcony. From 1996 until 2012, the building housed the infamous Redneck Shop in the lobby and a cavernous gathering hall in the former theater s...


Dec 30th 2020

Work begins to turn SC racist store into racial harmony site

Regan Freeman had spent more than a year organizing a project to tell the story of a Black South Carolina pastor who reached out to Ku Klux Klan members who wanted him dead because of his race.

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Oct 20th 2020

Designing a More Inclusive South Carolina

Michael Allen (Liberty Fellow, Class of 2014) grew up in Conway, a small town in the northeast corner of South Carolina. From an early age, he wanted to be an artist. He ultimately channeled his passion for art into a career in architecture.

Continue Reading


Oct 13th 2020

The black reverend who bought a Ku Klux Klan shop

American reverend David Kennedy fought for control of a shop selling racist paraphernalia, which he then changed into a multicultural community centre.

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Oct 9th 2020

The Real Story of Burden: How a KKK Member Changed His Life with Help from a Black Minister

Mike Burden and Reverend David Kennedy’s 24-year friendship had an unlikely beginning.

When they first met in Laurens S.C., Burden was grand dragon of the local KKK and Kennedy, an African-American pastor who grew up in segregated housing. At the time, Kennedy was trying to fight the existence of...


Jan 20th 2020

Pastor’s fight against KKK becomes movie that may aid battle

Not many years ago in a small, rural South Carolina town stood The Redneck Shop — a racist emporium and Ku Klux Klan museum housed in an old theater, where white supremacist neo-Nazis gave heil-Hitler salutes and flaunted swastikas and Rebel flags.

Continue Reading


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Mailing Address

The Echo Project
PO Box 8
Laurens, SC 29360