The hall’s board of trustees today announced their 2012 choice: Thomas Lynch, Sr., a South Carolina planter and delegate to the Stamp Act Congress of 1765; and Judge Ernest Finney, Jr., the first African American Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court since Reconstruction..
Both inductees will be honored at a formal ceremony on Monday, Feb. 13 at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel at 10:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. The Official S.C. Hall of Fame is located in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
According to background provided by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Lynch, Sr., (1727-1776) was an indigo and rice planter in the colony of South Carolina, securing his placement as the colony’s second-wealthiest citizen. Lynch was also the leading statesman in the colony from 1751 until his death in 1776, serving in the Colonial Legislature of South Carolina, representing the colony of South Carolina in the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 including heading the committee that drafted the petition to the House of Commons, and serving as a representative to the both the first and second Continental Congresses under George Washington. Because of illness, Lynch’s son signed the American Declaration of Independence in his stead.
Ernest A. Finney, Jr., was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice appointed to the South Carolina Supreme Court (after the Reconstruction-era federal appointments of state leaders). He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Claflin College in 1952 and graduated from South Carolina State College’s School of Law in 1954, before beginning work as a teacher. In 1960, he began a full-time law practice in Sumter.
Finney served as chairman of the South Carolina Commission on Civil Rights in 1963 and was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1972. He was appointed to the House Judiciary Committee. Finney was also one of the founders of the Legislative Black Caucus and served as charter chairperson.
After he sat on the State Supreme Court for nine years, the General Assembly elected Finney to be Chief Justice in 1994. Finney retired in 2000.
Past SC Hall of Fame inductees include author Pat Conroy, President Andrew Jackson, jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie, Sen. J. Strom Thurmond, astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr. among others.