The Redneck Shop was the most famous white supremacist store in America.
Since 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. As told in the new film BURDEN, Rev. David Kennedy (as played by Forrest Whitaker), a black Baptist minister and civil rights activist, took in a former Klansmen who lived at the store. In the ultimate act of forgiveness, the redeemed Klansman was given a home, food for his family, and a place to worship.
As a token of thanks, the Klansman sold Reverend Kennedy partial ownership of the Redneck Shop and, after a long legal battle, it was ruled that rightful ownership of the property was held by Reverend Kennedy and The New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church. The Redneck Shop was closed permanently in 2017.
This saga has been covered in numerous outlets over the years, including an ABC Primetime Special in the 1990s, along with coverage in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.
Currently, the building sits dilapidated and abandoned, still containing remnants of its past tenant. These reminders of the building’s not-so-distant past only work to strengthen our resolve to finally turn a new page and start a new beginning.
Reverend Kennedy’s action 23 years ago — in showing grace to the seemingly unforgivable, yet standing defiant in the face of injustice — is something we will emulate in our grand plan for The Echo Theater and our organization. Now, we have the ability to tell a new story of justice, healing, and reconciliation throughout South Carolina.
Become a Founding Member today!
We need the support of all of you to throw open our doors and begin our work across South Carolina. You can become a Founding Member of The Echo Project by donating to our initial fundraising effort and the first 2500 donor names will be listed on a plaque in the newly rennovated center. Stand strong against hate, and join us!
Introducing The Echo Project: a 501(c)(3) organization launched in coordination with Reverend Kennedy, and the New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church family. We are focused on breathing new life into the former Redneck Shop: changing it for the better, and creating a beacon of hope in Laurens, South Carolina.