Sat. Apr 17th, 2021

By Geoffrey Collins, The Associated Press

LAURENS. SC (AP) – Regan Freeman spent more than a year organizing a project to tell the story of a black South Carolina pastor who reached out to the members of the Ku Klux Klan, who because of his race gave him Wanted the dead.

Freeman thought he knew the story well. This was followed by a tweet, containing two gray storage tubs of some extremist newspapers, flyers, posters, photographs and other material that he had ever seen.

This leads to the struggle of Rev. David Kennedy, along with his patience, love and care for all men – even the evil in his heart – in a sharp focus for Freeman, who once turned over a store full of racist goods Was working for Diversity Center and Museum on Racial Reconciliation.

Freeman was born three months after the Redman Shop and World’s Only Klan Museum, adorned with Confederate flags and swastikas on a back wall, opened in Lawrence in 1996. They have raised more than $ 300,000 to renovate the historic Echo Theater, a separate movie theater before the shop and a large meeting hall where dozens of Hood Klan members met in the back.

Freeman wants to gather around Lawrence the stories of black people whose ancestors struggled through slavery and segregation and perhaps took on other projects such as putting historical markers in place of each of the more than 150 known lynchings in the state Huh.

“There are too many stories out there that haven’t been told or we haven’t told completely,” said Freeman. “

And he took her to those gray plastic tubs.

In October, he responded to a tweet from a woman who now owns the land where Redneck Shop owner John Howard lived, who knew the Southern Poverty Law Center had a ton of goods.

The woman made no reply, so Freeman left himself and after an undeclared visit, some conversations and $ 500, they made decades of baggage that marked Howard’s racist life.

There are negatives of cross burning. Poster of Adolf Hitler. A “Klan Rally Instruction” manual. A flyer called “A Boat Ticket to Africa” ​​with a badly derogatory black caricature and stereotype. Members of a business card Klan would leave to scare black families who said it was a social trip and “don’t make a business call next time.”

“This stuff is not there 100 years ago. Some of it is probably from the last decade or two, “Freeman said. I think it’s important to look at it and see how deep this hatred goes, so you can see that we need to work so hard to change . “

Freeman’s plan at historians at the University of South Carolina is to help him look at objects with an eye toward preservation and display those that tell the best story in a theater performance.

A Klan member named Michael Burden, who was once contemplating killing Kennedy, sold the theater to Pastor after helping Kennedy in 1997, when he and Howard were falling out. But the Burden deal allowed Howard to lease the theater for the redneck shop. Kennedy eventually won a 15-year court battle and closed the shop. The story became the film “Burden” released earlier this year.

Now Freeman is leading the project to transform the old theater into a dream of a community center in Kennedy, where racial harmony and harmony is at the forefront.

“We are hoping that the Eco Project will become a place where every race can be respected – a place where diversity is not only talked about, but celebrated through action,” Kennedy he said.

Freeman grew up in nearby Clinton, and at the University of South Carolina, dragged Kennedy to talk about his work. Kennedy asked him to lead the project and Freeman quit a law firm job for his new calling.

“It’s a chance to tell a great story,” Freeman said.

An architect and construction firm has been chosen, work will begin soon and Freeman plans to resume the Eco Project website to expand its reach.

“Being part of a project that can use architecture and change at the same time is huge for me,” said Michael Allen, founder of MOA Architecture.

First bit of work for companies? Turning off a Confederate flag sticker on the marquee for decades and replacing it with the project’s name and website.

“It should be the opposite of a dilapidated old building as a center of hatred,” said David Walker, the project’s manager of Sodexo’s Construction and Infrastructure Services.

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at

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