The American Nazi Party met at the ECHO theatre from the 90's until 2012

SC theatre shines light on racist past to ignite brighter future


It was a segregated movie theater. A Ku Klux Klan meeting space. A ‘Red Neck Shop’ that sold Confederate flag memorabilia. And that’s not all.“There is a 25-foot swastika in the back of this building. It was painted by the American Nazi party. They had their headquarters here from 2008 to 2012,” said Regan Freeman, who started The Echo Project after learning about the lynching history in Laurens. Freeman grew up in Clinton, South Carolina.But to many, the ECHO theatre in the city of Laurens, South Carolina, is now a beacon of light for a hopeful future. Dozens came to downtown Laurens Thursday night to see the marquee lit up for the first time in 25 years. Founded in 2019, the ECHO Project is the nonprofit working to rebuild the space.Walmart, the area’s biggest private employer, donated $75,000 for the renovation.The ECHO theatre was bought by New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church.Rev. David E. Kennedy tells WYFF4 he’d like to see the space be transformed into “a center of diversity where everybody can feel like they’re somebody.”After renovations. the plan is for this theatre to be a civil rights and race relations museum.“If you look at this building now, and if you look at old photos what it used to be, it had a lot of things to say,” said architect Michael Allen, “But the firm has been working with the echo project and Reverend K and his team to do is to change the narrative.”The ECHO Project is still looking to raise $3 million.CLICK HERE to learn more about fundraising goals for the renovation. “I would like for it to mean a community where anybody, any race, any color can come here, feel safe, watch what we got on display, and bring every race together,” said Russell Smith, a deacon at New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church,

It was a segregated movie theater. A Ku Klux Klan meeting space. A ‘Red Neck Shop’ that sold Confederate flag memorabilia. And that’s not all.

“There is a 25-foot swastika in the back of this building. It was painted by the American Nazi party. They had their headquarters here from 2008 to 2012,” said Regan Freeman, who started The Echo Project after learning about the lynching history in Laurens. Freeman grew up in Clinton, South Carolina.

Hearst OwnedThe ECHO Project

But to many, the ECHO theatre in the city of Laurens, South Carolina, is now a beacon of light for a hopeful future.

Dozens came to downtown Laurens Thursday night to see the marquee lit up for the first time in 25 years.

Founded in 2019, the ECHO Project is the nonprofit working to rebuild the space.

Walmart, the area’s biggest private employer, donated $75,000 for the renovation.

The ECHO theatre was bought by New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church.

Rev. David E. Kennedy tells WYFF4 he’d like to see the space be transformed into “a center of diversity where everybody can feel like they’re somebody.”

After renovations. the plan is for this theatre to be a civil rights and race relations museum.

“If you look at this building now, and if you look at old photos what it used to be, it had a lot of things to say,” said architect Michael Allen, “But the firm has been working with the echo project and Reverend K and his team to do is to change the narrative.”

The ECHO Project is still looking to raise $3 million.

CLICK HERE to learn more about fundraising goals for the renovation.

“I would like for it to mean a community where anybody, any race, any color can come here, feel safe, watch what we got on display, and bring every race together,” said Russell Smith, a deacon at New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church,



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