Learn about the history of the Echo Theater and explore the exciting renovations transforming this space into one of remembrance, diversity, and truth.
The Redneck Shop was the most famous white supremacist store in America.
Opening inside the 110-year-old Echo Theater in 1996, the store sold Confederate memorabilia, Ku Klux Klan robes, and served as a meeting place for Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, and other white supremacist organizations.
In the ultimate act of forgiveness, Reverend David Kennedy, a Black Baptist Minister and Civil Rights activist, took in Michael Burden Jr., a Klansmen who lived at the store. Rev. Kennedy and his church gave Burden a home, food for his family, and a place to worship after Burden decided to walk away from the Klan. As a token of thanks, Burden sold Reverend Kennedy partial ownership of “The Redneck Shop”.
After a long legal battle, it was ruled that rightful ownership of the property was held by Reverend Kennedy and his church, with “The Redneck Shop” finally closing in 2012.
Now, The Echo Project is taking the Echo Theater, a place marred by racism, and transforming it into one of truth, remembrance, and healing.
Thanks to the generosity of people around the globe, we have started the renovation of the Echo Theater, but we need your help to continue this necessary work.
Your donation goes directly to transforming the Echo Theater and building our programming to foster reconciliation, healing, and diversity across the country. After 25 years, the neon marquee for The Echo Theater has been restored to its full glory, thanks to the fundraising efforts of our supporters! With this lighting, the words “ECHO” not only illuminate downtown Laurens once again but serve as a welcome to all after a long period of darkness. The Echo Project's comprehensive renovation to transform the former home of "The Redneck Shop" from one of racial hatred into one of remembrance and community is fully underway.
Our team is working to provide context of this history to visitors with compelling exhibits, community-driven education, and historical research that will be the backbone of a diversity center that fosters conversations around justice.