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

January 16, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 17.9%. 1 min read.

FILE- In this, Jan. 13, 2020 file photo, Rev. David Kennedy stands outside the Echo Theater holding a photo of his great uncle's lynching, in Laurens, S.C. Kennedy has fought for civil rights in South Carolina for decades. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan, File)

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.

In 1996, the once segregated movie theater became home to the Redneck Shop, a White supremacist store that sold White nationalist and neo-Nazi paraphernalia, Klans robes and Confederate memorabilia up until its forced closure in 2012.

Now, the theater is being renovated by the Echo Project, an organization founded in 2019 by Laurens-area resident Regan Freeman and local Black preacher, Rev. David Kennedy.

When the Redneck Shop opened, Kennedy, the leader of the New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church, chose to stand against the KKK and demand for the store to be closed.

However, Burden's agreement required that Howard would be allowed to run the Redneck Shop until he died -- a deal Kennedy fought in the courts for 15 years.

"The shop closed in 2012 because a judge ruled that New Beginnings was the official owner of the Redneck Shop because of that deed the Klansman gave to Rev. Kennedy," Freeman said.

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