The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Racist ‘Redneck Shop’ in South Carolina Now Owned by Black Church

By Bill Morlin on January 5, 2012 - 3:27 pm, Posted in Anti-Black, Klan

After a four-year legal battle, a black Baptist church in South Carolina now is the legal owner of a building housing the infamous Redneck Shop, which operates a Ku Klux Klan museum and sells KKK and other racist clothing.

The Rev. David Kennedy, a long-time civil rights activist and pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Laurens, S.C., told Hatewatch today he can’t wait to turn the racist landmark “into a place of diversity.”

“I don’t want that business there,” Kennedy said. “When our church takes over in full, that’s when that business will end. Basically, we just think it’s a matter of time – but soon.”

The minister said he already has been approached by civic leaders in Laurens and others who have discussed turning the building into a fine arts center for youth or an auditorium for civic events. There also are discussions about moving the New Beginnings church into the building, but some members of the congregation are fearful of repercussions. “I don’t want fear to overtake us again,” Kennedy said Thursday.

“There’s even talk about turning it into a theater again,” Kennedy said.

“At this point, we know it will be a place of diversity – where diversity isn’t talked about but lived and celebrated,” he told Hatewatch.

Kennedy didn’t rule out the possibility of allowing the current tenant, former Klan leader John Howard, to peacefully remove his racist merchandise.

The Redneck Shop has received extensive media attention, including an ABC Primetime segment showing store inventories of T-shirts depicting white boys urinating on black boys.

Kennedy also has been involved in a number of civil rights battles in South Carolina, including the state’s refusal to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome. Because of that activism, Kennedy said, he and his church have been targeted with Nazi and Confederate graffiti and dead animals. Those hate crimes have spread fear among his 200-member congregation, Kennedy said, and its size has dwindled in recent months.

With the court ruling clearing up the ownership issue, Kennedy said he sees brighter days ahead.

A state circuit judge in Greenwood, S.C., ruled last month that the New Beginnings Baptist Church is the legal owner of the building and, therefore, controls the space now being used by the shop.

The building in Laurens, about 70 miles northwest of Columbia, is an old segregated movie theater named after 18th century slave trader Henry Laurens, The Associated Press reported.

The title to the building was transferred in 1997 to Kennedy and his church, which now holds services in a double-wide mobile home in a rural area about two miles from Laurens.

The man who transferred the title of the building was feuding with Howard and “developed a spiritual relationship” with Kennedy’s church, the judge wrote in a Dec. 9 ruling. A clause in the deed said Howard, a former KKK grand dragon in the Carolinas, could operate his Redneck Shop until he dies. That clause triggered the ownership lawsuit filed in 2008 against Howard. He has declined comment on whether he will appeal the circuit court’s ruling.

  • Mela x

    Love is in need of love today-stevie “iamlegend” wonder

  • Mela x

    Diversity is natural law

    Heiwa is japanese for peace!

  • Kiwiwriter

    Mr. Pearlstein, please produce your evidence for these incidents. That’s how it works. We’ve written our term papers.

  • EarleyDaysYet

    Wzrd1, kudos on your turn of phrase! While the “correct” saying is “time heals all wounds”, your version is funny and linguistically correct, if too subtle for some fellow commenters.

    A “heel” is “a dishonourable person” – the term is used in the same way as “cad”. So to say that “time wounds all heels” IS correct, and funny… or at least it WAS funny, until nobody got the joke and it had to be explained.

  • A.D.M.

    Obviously M Pearlstein does not know how to do research. The SPLC did a story on the flash mobs back in August 2011. As for the rest of your nonsensical diatribe, you’re no different from the rest of the idiots that come here and throw accusations without providing links to back it up. And what’s with the obsession with blacks among some white nationalists?

    And as Aron said, given your name (if it is your real name), the white nationalists would never consider you white. Given the history there, why are you with them? And no, white people are not better than or superior to any other group of people.

  • Linnea

    M Pearlstein: Evidence? Or do you not know what that is?

  • Aron

    M Pearlstein:

    How about some details! As far as I’m concerned all of your accusations are spurious.

    Also, judging by your name, I don’t think many of these white nationalists would consider you ‘white.’

    Get a grip.

  • A.D.M.

    Time heals all wounds. Thanks for the correction.

  • Abe Goldstein

    Unfortunately, owning a building doesn’t give you the right to tresspass onto the lessee’s property. I own several buildings in NYC with several tenants I would like to get rid of, but they have rights as if they own it. i just have to wait the deadbeats out.
    Also, you pointed out they the WN racist movement had many homesexuals as if that is a pejorative term. Implying that anything is wrong with homsexuality shows you are a bigot yourself, so you need to open your pathetic little closed mind.

  • M Pearlstein

    How unbelievably biased the Southern Poverty Law Center is against white people?

    – they don’t think ten to fifteen black men brutally beating a white man for dating a black woman qualifies as a hate crime, even if they do slightly break his jaw and damage his brain a touch as well

    – they recorded Denver’s worst racially motivated crime spree, resulting in 38 arrests, as a single “legal development,” because the victims were white and the perpetrators black

    – they invented a racially motivated white-on-black assault, then counted it twice, once for the incident and again for the sentencing — oh no, no “legal development” there!

    -they sometimes mysteriously choose to omit the race of the victims and perpetrators when the hate crime doesn’t fit their fantastical narrative of eeevil whites and poor, helpless, innocent minorities

    – they consider hours of racially motivated torture an act of “vandalism,” as long as the victim is white
    how they couldn’t be bothered to report on 30 to 40 blacks roaming the Iowa State Fairgrounds attacking whites at random in an event the perpetrators called “Beat Whitey Night” (try this one with the races reversed)

    -they also couldn’t muster any interest in a racist rampage by blacks at the Wisconsin State Fair last August, instead devoting their attention to a mistrial in the case against a suspected “white supremacist” — as if merely believing white people are better (and why would they ever think that?) is a horrific crime.


  • Erika

    Aron, how about heels wound all time?

  • Aron


    I rather like Wizrd1’s turn of phrase. I know that the back of my foot is very chronologically sensitive, so he does make a point. Heh

  • Shadow Wolf

    “time heels[sic] all wounds”……

    Are you guys talking about a woman’s shoe? If wounds can be healed by time. I believe the proper word is heal.

  • A.D.M.

    Wzrd1, it’s, “Time heels all wounds.”

  • Wzrd1

    Perhaps the building should have some extensive, that, perhaps could make entry into the shop difficult in the near future…
    Seriously though, as was said above, as time moves on, our society advances and these groups are pushed, first to the margins, then to the history books, along with the whigs and tories.
    Or as someone once said, “Time wounds all heels”.

  • Southwest Lone Wolf

    A shirt that depicts “white boys urinating on black boys”. I have to wonder about the true nature of these despisable imagery. Pardon my homophobic comments, but it seems the white supremacist artist behind that shirt’s design, possibly shares a dark secret. Talk about not coming out of the closet yet. But ironically, homosexuality in the WN movement is not suprising. It is well documented.

  • The Prisoner

    Good Job! Raise the rent and let them stay in business. Open a shop that appeals to minorities in the same area. Once they get pressure from the community, let’s see how long they stay in business.

  • Shadow Wolf

    That makes perfect sense. Thanks for the clarification.

    As for that kind of T-shirt. Any white boy wearing that shirt, supposedly can only wear it in the privacy of their own home. I have seen people booted from certain public establishments for wearing such attire(offensive T-shirts included) deemed not appropriate. Or in some rare instances, a shirt like that can be an instigator of violence.

  • Anchorage Activist

    John Taylor Bowles, whose official ANP organizational title is SA Political Adviser, posted the following reaction on his blog:

    “…nothing changes at all. As long as the Redneck Shop owner is alive he can operate his business in the building and the American Nazi Party can hold its activities there as well. The sky did not fall and the ground did not open up.”

    Link: http://nsacumenoftheoldguard.b.....-shop.html

    Of course, only ANP Chairman Rocky Suhayda is entitled to speak officially for the party, but Mr. Bowles is clearly part of the inner circle.

    Rev. Kennedy may be entitled to access the shop, but whether or not he can overturn the clause entitling Mr. Howard to keep the Redneck Shop there may have to be determined in court. And there’s no guarantee he’ll prevail.

  • Erika

    shadow wolf, apparently the building was previously owned by another Klansman or by the Klan group – so its likely that the original lease terms, if there even is rent were quite favorable.

    Since its doubtful that enough people actually buy that racist junk to actually pay for the shop to stay open without a sweetheart deal on rent.

    Oh and I have to say in response to this:

    “T-shirts depicting white boys urinating on black boys”

    Keep your sick sexual preferences to yourself, pervert..

  • Gregory
  • DrMJG

    Ever slowly (too slowly at times), these outlandish proudly racist entities are pushed even further into the margins! I pray that the church involved will be allowed to function in peace. My gut, however, tells me they will still have many battle scars.

  • Shadow Wolf

    I wonder why it’s so important for that ex-KKKlown leader to remain in that building? When he can simply just pack his junk up and relocate his shody business to another location. How hard can it be? It would have saved his krusty alot of unwanted media shyt-storm.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Bill Morlin,

    Hopefully there will be no repercussions. It will be a good thing if the church is able to shut that place down.