From Laurens to Los Angeles, The Echo Project is aiming at making a huge, national impact in fighting hatred and building community through transformational, innovative, community-driven projects.
Through partnerships with educators and historians, The Echo Project is working to create educational tools that will explore topics such as discrimination, prejudice, and the struggle for justice and freedom for grades K-12 and beyond. Lesson plans, discussion topics, free access to the film BURDEN, and online resources will help to connect the experiences of Americans around the country with the stories of injustice and redemption found across South Carolina and at The Echo Theater. We hope to provide engaging tools for students to reflect on questions about the human experience and how history can relate to current events.
CORPORATE DIVERSITY, EQUITY, & INCLUSION TRAINING
Human resources departments are struggling to keep up with the demand for better diversity, equity, and inclusion training. The Echo Project is developing new programs that will utilize the movie BURDEN and celebrity endorsements to create captivating training materials that employees are more likely to relate to and engage with. We will also incorporate the work of Rev. Kennedy and The Echo Theater’s history offer historical perspective and goals for the future.
Reverend Kennedy and members of New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church bring many decades of experience as community organizers to our work at The Echo Project. They have deep roots in our community in Laurens, S.C., and will be the backbone of our community outreach efforts here. We will work closely with community members first in Laurens, and then as we expand our outreach, to communities across the state and nation.
Through community outreach, we will focus on shaping programming that reflects the communities’ needs and vision. This feedback will help us grow our Leadership Academy and foster grassroots organizing to create systemic change. Through this kind of grassroots organizing, we will bring people together to be enriched and inspired, to provide civic education and a sense of unity.
We also aim to gather, record, and preserve the untold stories of those who have been so often overlooked and erased from history. Communities will find healing and justice when people themselves are celebrated.
We will focus some of our outreach efforts on garnering feedback from community members through structured community forums. These forums will be guided by experienced, trained moderators who are involved in organizing for justice and education around race.
Forums will be open to the entire community. They will be livestreamed so that everyone can participate, either in person or virtually. A summary report after each meeting will be produced to guide and inform future meetings and leadership decisions.
These gatherings will offer a positive space for community members to share their hopes and dreams for the future of Laurens, to identify issues that are holding us back as a community, and explore ways to deal with them more effectively.
VOICES AND STORIES ORAL HISTORY
In Laurens, we believe that for many of our neighbors, their voices have not been heard and their stories have not been told. We are working to establish a Voices and Stories Oral History Project to not only record the lived history of the people of Laurens but also learn about the hopes and dreams for the future. These Voices and Stories will be recorded and preserved and available here – and will inform our work for the future. Someday, we hope to take Voices and Stories throughout South Carolina.
Our community-informed Leadership Academy will offer budding leaders practical, effective instruction and support to build their civic engagement skills. The Echo Project’s Leadership Academy will foster activism in community members -- with a focus on youths -- through training in project management. We will aim, not only to show youths how to advocate for themselves and others, but to strengthen their own academic and financial endeavors and enrich their critical thinking skills and social-emotional development.