Program includes philanthropic donation from Walmart

The Echo Theater in downtown Laurens, S.C. — home to the former “Redneck Shop,” the most infamous white supremacist store in America — is taking its theater marquee from darkness to light for the first time in over 25 years.

In May 1996, Reverend David Kennedy, Pastor of the New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church, began his decades-long fight (as told in the Sundance Award Winning Film BURDEN) to transform the 100-year-old Echo Theater, a segregated movie theater turned KKK museum and American Nazi Party Headquarters, into a place of truth, diversity and remembrance.

When this historic theater marquee lights up for the first time in over 25 years, the words “ECHO” will not only illuminate across downtown Laurens once again, but will now burn bright atop a space committed to combating hatred, healing division and showing that change is possible.

A remarkable moment in this world-renowned saga in its own right, and even more against the backdrop of ongoing social turmoil and racial injustice nationwide.
Below is the list of some of the leaders speaking at the event and that will be available for interviews.

  • Reverend Kennedy, President, The Echo Project
  • Regan Freeman, Executive Director, The Echo Project
  • Brooke Mueller, Walmart Public Affairs

As part of the commemoration, Walmart will make a donation to The Echo Project in support of its mission to rebuild the theater into a place of healing.

WHEN: Thursday, May 27, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Outside the Echo Theater, 108 W Laurens Street, Laurens, S.C. 29360
DETAILS: There will be a designated area for media to gather.
PARKING: Parking will be available at the public lot at the intersection of W Laurens and N Caroline streets, and around the Laurens Square.

ABOUT: The Echo Project is a nonprofit organization founded in 2019 by South Carolina Civil Rights Activist Reverend David Kennedy, members of New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church and residents of Laurens County, South Carolina.

True to the vision of Reverend Kennedy and members of his church and community, The Echo Project is beginning renovation and construction at the Echo Theater to create an inclusive multicultural initiative that embodies the transformative powers of reconciliation and tolerance.

Once the building renovation is complete, the NEW Echo Theater will house a world-class museum and an in-person and online education center that will share the untold history of racial violence, the struggle for civil rights, and the power bestowed on communities through tolerance, justice and racial reconciliation. This center will celebrate diversity and empower young people to be positive and peaceful community builders.

Inspired by the decades-long saga of Reverend Kennedy and his fight against (and eventual ownership of) “The Redneck Shop,” we are committed to telling the truth about our past, standing against hatred and building a better future for all people.

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Mailing Address

The Echo Project
PO Box 8
Laurens, SC 29360