Posted March 11, 2008 – Black South Carolina preacher, whose ancestor was lynched by the Klan, owns property from which a former grand dragon of the KKK sells hooded robes, racist T-shirts and all manner of White supremacist paraphernalia. Problem is, the Rev. David Kennedy can’t do anything about it – at least not now.
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For the past 12 years, John Howard has run the Redneck Shop from an old movie theater in Laurens , S.C. , which was transferred to Kennedy a year after it opened. But the deed stipulates that the 62-year-old Howard can operate the business from that location until he dies. A court must decide how much juice is in the legal documents.
"Our ownership puts an end to that history as far as violence and hatred, racism being practiced in that place and also the recruiting of the Klan," Kennedy told The Associated Press. "This is the same place that we had to go up into the balcony to go to the movies before the Klan took it. So there's a lot of history there."
The 54-year-old minister says the shop is the future home of his New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church , which now meets in a double-wide trailer, AP reports.
"If anything turns people off, they shouldn't come in here. It's not a thing in here that's against the law," said Howard, who served as grand dragon for the South Carolina and North Carolina branches of the Klan.
Kennedy, who says that his great, great uncle was lynched by a White mob, has been fighting racism a long time. When the state of his South Carolina county refused to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, he was in the forefront of those protests, he said. He was also a leader in the fight to have the Confederate flag removed from the Statehouse dome, AP reports. Laurens, about 30 miles southeast of Greenville , was named after 18th-century slave trader Henry Laurens.