Great Black Men in HistoryStaying informed is half the battle...

Ernest A. Finney Jr.
Ernest A. Finney Jr. Ernest A. Finney Jr.


After graduating from law school in 1954, Ernest A Finney, Jr found it difficult to earn a living from legal work, so he supplemented his salary by teaching school and waiting tables Ironically, the young lawyer attended his first meeting of the South Carolina Bar as a waiter serving other members of the Bar The reason: Finney is black At that time, blacks were not allowed membership in the state lawyers' association Times have changed! In May 1994, the state's general assembly elected that same Ernest Finney to the position of Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, effective December of 1994, making him the first African-American Chief Justice of South Carolina since Reconstruction Finney's qualifications are impeccable In 1976, he won an election to become South Carolina's first black circuit judge He has been on the state Supreme Court since 1985.

Finney was born in 1931 in Smithfield, Virginia His mother died when he was 10 days old He was raised by his father, Dr Ernest A Finnney, Sr, a dedicated educator who instilled in his young son an understanding of the importance of a good education The family moved to Washington, DC, where the elder Finney worked as a civil training officer for the War Department During this time, young Ernest observed that black lawyers were respected citizens who influenced the lives of many people He decided to pursue a legal career Finney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claflin College in 1952.

He then enrolled in South Carolina State College's School of Law, from which he graduated in 1954 He was armed with a law degree but could not find work as a lawyer so he worked as a teacher in Conway for the next five years Finney has always shown tremendous concern for young people "I think one of the heartaches I have as an individual is to see so many of our young people who get turned off by the system or turn away from applying their best efforts and just waste their lives That is tragic" In 1960 Finney moved with his family to Sumter and devoted himself to the full-time practice of law He gained a reputation as an outstanding defense lawyer and civil rights advocate He defended more than 6,000 clients who had been arrested for taking part in sit-ins, freedom rides and demonstrations Because the legal system in South Carolina protected segregation, he lost almost every case that went to trial, but won all but two on appeal to higher courts "I have never known abject poverty, but I have known segregation in its worst form," said Finney.

"I therefore believe the law is absolutely necessary to protect the rights of all citizens" In 1963, Finney served as chairman of the South Carolina Commission on Civil Rights After serving in the vanguard of the movement to advance the cause of racial justice, Finney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representative in 1972 He was subsequently appointed a member of the House Judiciary Committee, making him the first African-American to serve on that key committee in modern times Finney was one of the founders of the Legislative Black Caucus and served as charter Chairperson from 1973-1975 Finney's other many accomplishments include National College of State Trial Judges, 1977; Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, The Citadel & Johnson C Smith University, 1995; Doctor of Humane Letters, SC State University, 1996; Doctor of Laws, Morris College, 1996; Doctorate, Clafline University; Honoree, SC Trial Lawyers Association, 1993; elected and qualified Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit, 1976; and elected and qualified Associate Justice, 1985 He has also studied at New York University.

Finney retired from the state Supreme Court in 2000 and was named interim president of SC State University in 2002 .

Judge Ernest A. Finney, Jr.
In 1960, Ernest Finney began his law practice in Sumter, South Carolina, specializing in civil rights advocacy and defense. He represented the Friendship 9, a group of black college students...
Watch Video
American judge Ernest A Finney Jr Died at 86
Ernest Adolphus Finney Jr. was born on March 23, 1931 and died on December 3, 2017. He was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice appointed to the South Carolina Supreme Court since...
Watch Video
Ernest A. Finney, Jr.
Inducted in 2012, Finney and was an Attorney, Legislator, Teacher and Jurist.
Watch Video
S.C. Chief Justice Ernest Finney speaks at Friendship Nine hearing
Ernest Finney, the attorney for the Friendship Nine back in 1961, went on to become the first black Chief Justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Watch Video
The Local Legend - Ernest Finney Jr
The Telly Award Winning documentary on former South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Ernest A. Finney, Jr. Filmed and produced by Mark Roberts.
Watch Video
Segment Ernest Finney
No Description Available
Watch Video
Part 1: Remembering Judge Earnest Finney, Jr.
The "Friendship 9," a Civil Rights group, reflects on the work of the first black Chief Justice to sever on the South Carolina Supreme Court. Finney, 86, died December 3, 2017.
Watch Video
South Carolinas first black chief justice dead at 86
FILE - In a Saturday, May 12, 2007 file photo, former South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Ernest Finney Jr. listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton,...
Watch Video
South carolinas first black chief justice dead at 86 | News News
South carolina's first black chief justice dead at 86 | News News COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ernest Finney, South Carolina's first African-American chief justice, died Sunday. He was 86.South Carolina...
Watch Video
Part 2: Remembering Judge Earnest Finney, Jr.
In an exclusive interview, Billie Jean Shaw spoke to Judge Finney's family. While the nation knew him as a Civil Rights icon, his family knew him as a loving father and husband.
Watch Video
US judge overturns 1940s conviction of executed boy
A judge has overturned the conviction of a 14-year-old black boy executed for murder more than 70 years ago. The young teenager's prosecution for the killing of two white girls in South Carolina...
Watch Video
Attorney Ernest B. Fenton - Take The Extra Step (Social Justice Hour)
Tune in to the Social Justice Hour Every Sat. 12pm - 1pm WVON AM Chicago Or Listen Live at TAKE THE EXTRA STEP!!!
Watch Video
Law: expectation vs. reality
Santo Tomas university Teacher: Erika Jiménez Group 5OP3 Students: Benitez Brenda Code 6 Nemocon Adriana Code 16 García Daniela Code 11.
Watch Video
Civil Rights History Project: Ernest Adolphus Finney
Ernest Adolphus Finney oral history interview for the Civil Rights History Project conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Columbia, South Carolina, 2011-06-08.
Watch Video
Like father like son, duo makes SC history
It's not everyday that a son can proudly walk in his father's footsteps. But for Ernest chip Finney the third it's a journey he's been thankful for. Good Day Anchor Fraendy Clervaud has more....
Watch Video
Nikky Finney reads Left
A poem from Head Off & Split. Visit for more information.
Watch Video
South Carolina Court to Clear Friendship Nine of Civil Rights Crimes
Black civil rights protesters who helped reinvigorate the 1960s U.S. sit-in movement against segregated lunch counters will appear in a South Carolina court on Wednesday to be celebrated instead...
Watch Video
M. Dawes Cooke, Jr.: Proud to Be a South Carolina Lawyer
M. Dawes Cooke, Jr., of Barnwell, Whaley, Patterson & Helms in Charleston, SC, appears in the South Carolina Bar's "Proud to be a South Carolina Lawyer" video series. The series is designed...
Watch Video
2017 Geography of Hope: Nikky Finney
National Book Award–winning poet Nikky Finney reads her poems "Brown Country," "The Vertigo," and "Penguin Mullet Bread" at the 2017 Geography of Hope Conference. This year's theme was "Ancestors...
Watch Video
Social Justice Hour with Attorney Fenton(4/4)
Saturdays in Chicago WVON AM 1690 "The Social Justice Hour" hosted by Attorney Ernest B. Fenton ("The Stop Foreclosure Attorney") 12-1pm.
Watch Video

More Video