The Renaissance Cultural Arts Center renamed in honor of Finney

Columbia, SC – The Renaissance Cultural Arts Center Museum will become the “Judge Ernest A. Finney, Jr. Civil Rights Museum,” when in his honor on July 27, 2012 naming rights take place. This historic event will recognize one of our state’s greatest pioneer’s.

Born March 23,1931, Judge Finney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1972. He was the first African American to serve on the House Judiciary Committee in recent history, and an original founder of the Legislative Black Caucus, serving as its charter Chairman from 1973 to 1975.

Elected to a judgeship in South Carolina’s Third Circuit Court on July 22, 1976, he later became the state’s first African American Circuit Court Judge. In 1985, Judge Finney was elected to the state of South Carolina’s Supreme Court. Additionally, on May 11, 1994, he became the first African American Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court since the Reconstruction era, a position he held with distinction until his retirement from the bench on March 23, 2000.

The Civil Rights Museum will house historical artifacts and documents related to the contributions made by the African-American Ecumenical Faith Community, and will also feature the UBF of South Carolina “Hall of Fame” Inductees. In conjunction with the Civil Rights Museum, the Renaissance Foundation will kick off “The 1921 Campaign.” The campaign recognizes the date of the building’s completion.

Historic Bethel was built in 1921 by the first African-American Architect John Anderson Lanksford who has the distinction of being the first African American with an established architectural office. Lanksford was also an attorney, professor, author, blacksmith and a Real Estate Broker. “Our vision is to restore and transform Historic Bethel into a performing arts venue, museum and art gallery.” All contributions starting at $19.21 will save a South Carolina Treasure.

The names of each donor will be listed in the museum’s records at this National Heritage Tourist Site. Our goal is to reach 100,000 contributors. Once completed, the Cultural Arts Center will have a tremendous economic impact throughout the Midlands and the State of South Carolina. You can make your donations to “The 1921 Campaign” by mailing your contribution to the Foundation or you may donate online at