“Burden,” a powerful new film about a former KKK member whose life was transformed after forming a friendship with a black preacher he once planned to assassinate, will soon hit the big screen.
Releasing in select theaters Feb. 28, “Burden” follows the true story of Michael Eugene Burden Jr., who in 1996 opened the Redneck Shop and Klan Museum in Laurens, South Carolina, displaying KKK paraphernalia, including white-hooded Klan uniforms and photographs of lynchings.
However, after meeting a woman who persuades him to leave the KKK, Burden renounces his Klan membership and sells his store to the Rev. David E. Kennedy, a black pastor whose own uncle was lynched by the KKK.
Burden’s decision to sell his store infuriates Klan members, who seek vengeance. Because the KKK holds tremendous power over the small town, Burden soon finds himself jobless and penniless.
Despite his own misgivings, Reverend Kennedy, the pastor of New Beginnings Church, decides to shelter Burden, his girlfriend, and her son. In doing so, the pastor and community members set aside their own misgivings in hopes of teaching the former clan member about love and acceptance. Thanks to the pastor’s kindness, compassion, and grace, Burden embraces Christianity and is baptized.
A trailer for the forthcoming film shows the moment Reverend Kennedy embraces Burden, telling skeptical community members, “I view him as a brother in Christ.”
“I wonder if y’all can forgive me,” Burden later says. “I hope God can forgive me.”
However, the pastor’s decision to help Burden leave behind his violent pastor sets him on a collision course with the manipulative KKK leader Tom Griffin, who presides over frequent gatherings of young clan members.
The film is directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robbie Brenner (“Dallas Buyers Club”) along with Andrew Heckler.
Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker and R&B singer Usher star in “Burden.” Garrett Hedlund, Crystal Fox, Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wilkinson, and Tess Harper round out the “Bruden” cast. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award.
“Burden” is based on Courtney Hargrave’s 2018 book, Burden: A Preacher, a Klansman, and a True Story of Redemption in the Modern South.
The film is rated R for violence, as it depicts the violence KKK members perpetrate against Burden and Reverend Kennedy.