Two South Carolina guys have shaped an agency to renovate a once nicely-hooked up area of segregation and white supremacy into a place for racial healing and remembrance.
Officially forming the Echo Project in 2019, Laurens, South Carolina, citizens Regan Freeman and the Rev. David Kennedy have to date raised extra than $375,000 to convert the historic Echo Theatre, later the Redneck Shop and as soon as called the “World’s Only Klan Museum,” right into a community center so as to understand its racist records whilst also selling the combat towards racial injustices, according to CNN. “A guy with a Confederate flag these days were given toward the halls of electricity in the U.S. Capitol than all and sundry did a hundred and fifty years ago. That’s why this is so essential. We want to reveal what justice and reconciliation seems like — and why we ought to stand against hatred.” (@EchoProjectSC) January eight, 2021
“We do not want to just have a museum to tell this story, the battle for justice, and the combat in opposition to the Klan, however we additionally want to detail what passed off right here to ensure it by no means takes place once more,” Freeman instructed CNN.
In the Fifties, the Echo Theatre become a segregated movie theatre. In 1996, it have become the Redneck Shop, a place that offered white nationalist, neo-Nazi and Klan paraphernalia and Confederate memorabilia earlier than it become forced to shut in 2012. The Redneck Shop became honestly owned by using Klan individuals, John Howard and Michael Burden, who coined the status quo “World’s Only Klan Museum” and allowed it to function a assembly spot for white nationalist corporations.
Kennedy had fought for years to have the status quo closed, in line with CBS News. Having formed an extremely not likely friendship with Burden, wherein the reverend sought to defend the Klansman from damage, as depicted within the 2018 movie, Burden, Kennedy was given the deed to the constructing. But it came with the clause that Howard could run the store till his loss of life. Howard and Kennedy later sued each different for the building’s rights.
In 2012, a decide dominated that Kennedy’s church, New Beginnings Baptist Church, became the rightful proprietor of the shop, in keeping with the deed. As such, Kennedy at once closed the establishment and began his plans for renovating the property and its challenge. Originally figuring out that the constructing could residence his church, which at the time turned into working out of a double-wide trailer.
“Our possession puts an give up to that history as some distance as violence and hatred, racism being practiced in that location and additionally the recruiting of the Klan,” Kennedy informed CBS News in 2008. “This is the equal location that we needed to move up into the balcony to visit the movies earlier than the Klan took it. So there may be loads of records there.”
Once formally presented the rights to the building, Kennedy declined to talk on his plans for the establishment, in keeping with The Associated Press. However, in 2018, the plan became clean and he began working with companions, including Freeman to begin the manner.
“[Echo] has type of informed testimonies. It’s type of the tagline we’re strolling with,” Freeman said. “It informed movies, and then it advised the worst story conceivable. And this guy, right here, helped change that. It’s his tale. His church has the deed to the belongings, and we get the risk to tell that next chapter. There are decades, if not centuries, of records here.”
Now with almost $four hundred,000 to put into effect plans within the thick of recent and extensively-publicized racial injustices, the 2 guys who now serve the Echo Project, Freeman as the executive director, have introduced special plans, which consist of the assets turning into a extra inclusive museum as a way to house gadgets from the Redneck Shop and a number of Howard’s white supremacy property. The project may even feature lecture rooms and curriculum inspired by using the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Mississippi and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, in keeping with The Post and Courier.
“It blows my thoughts that this (legacy of racism) is not taught in South Carolina schools,” Freeman informed The Post and Courier. “The human beings now online are the ideological descendants of these (propagandists). You have got to realize approximately this to combat that. You have got to tell the truth.”
The Echo Project continues to be elevating budget for its new task. According to the employer’s website, the Project is a “nonprofit devoted to recuperation racial department and standing in opposition to hatred via speak, empathy and know-how.” The internet site prominently capabilities the hashtag #RehabHate with the phrases additionally serving as its net cope with.
Details on whilst the brand new museum will open have now not yet been launched.