SUMTER (WACH) --- Itâ??s not everyday that a son can proudly walk in his father's footsteps.
But for Ernest "Chip" Finney, III it's a journey he's been thankful for.
â??I grew up in a house in the 1960s, 70s that was the central point of action in the community and change in the community and I saw my dad go out everyday and try to make the place that we lived our community our church our schools a better place,â?? says Ernest â??Chipâ?? Finney, Solicitor.
â??It makes me very proud. I never encouraged neither one of my sons to be lawyers but I would throw little tidbits and show them what I was doing,â?? says Retired Justice Ernest Finney.
Proud because just like him, his son Chip made history.
Chip becoming the first African American solicitor for the 3rd Judicial Circuit.
His father was the official at his swearing in ceremony.
Solicitor Finney represents Sumter, Clarendon, Lee and Williamsburg counties.
He practiced law for 30 years before becoming a solicitor three years ago.
â??When Iâ??m working with my staff attorneys Iâ??m always trying to monitor to make sure we feed people from the same spoon of justice,â?? says Finney.
Some say the judicial system overall is unfair to African Americans.
Finney says he believes the does system work.
â??The law is a blind lady figure in our portraits lady justice. The fact that Iâ??m an African American that I have been able to come to this point of representing the solicitors office in four counties, I think shows the fairness of the law, the opportunity that the law says is available to everybody,â?? says Finney.
Finney says he knows what it's like to feel discriminated against.
â??The first time I faced it head on was when my buddies and I wanted to join a local YMCA. We were probably 12, 14 years old. We went down to join Y and we werenâ??t able to do that because they wouldnâ??t allow persons of color to join at that time.
He recalls another incident.
â??My sister and I were the first group of African Americans who went to public school in Sumter and we had some challenges after school. I had to stand up for my sister a couple of times,â?? says Finney.
Heâ??s using his life experiences to help others get the justice they need.
What about following in his fathers footsteps and becoming a judge?
â??I'm leaving that door open. I like the opportunity to deal with people, I like the opportunity to solve problems and judges do that but judges are required to be neutral and not as involved,â?? says Finney.
His father doesnâ??t seem to mind.
â??It makes any human being feel good that those who he wants to follow him decides to go in that direction,â?? says Retired Justice Finney.