Claflin University to Present 2018 Visionary Leader Award to Frances Davenport Finney at 12th Annual First Lady’s Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea

Mar 08, 2018

Mrs  Frances Davenport Finney

Claflin University will present Mrs. Frances Davenport Finney ‘56 with the 2018 Visionary Leader Award during the 12th Annual First Lady’s Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea on Tuesday, March 20 in the Tullis Arena, Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center.  Davenport Finney will be recognized for her contributions in K-12 and adult education and community service.  Vendor booths open at 5 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m. 

Davenport Finney was born and raised in Newberry, S.C.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood with a minor in social studies at Claflin.  She received her master’s in education in 1963 at South Carolina State University. Davenport Finney’s passion for teaching and inspiring academic achievement to both youth and adults led her to a career in education. She started out teaching first graders in Bucksport, S.C., and later became the director of the kindergarten program at Morris College in Sumter, S.C. Davenport Finney later taught non-traditional students at the Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Sumter before serving as director of Student Employment at the University of South Carolina at Sumter.

Davenport Finney was married for more than 60 years to the late Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney Jr. '52, who died in December 2017.  He was the first African-American to serve as Chief Justice on the South Carolina Supreme Court.  Their union produced three children; Chip, a solicitor in Sumter; Jerry an attorney in Columbia, and Nikky, a renowned author and a professor at the University of South Carolina. Davenport Finney is admired as the matriarch of a family devoted to civil rights and social justice.

The First Lady’s Hats and Gloves Scholarship Tea will feature an assortment of delicious specialty teas, vendors with affordable luxury accessories, and musical performances by South Carolina’s Official First Lady of Song, Loretta Holloway ’74.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Alice Carson Tisdale Scholarship.  Three Claflin students will be awarded $2,000 scholarships and laptop computers for winning an essay contest and for their academic achievements. 

To purchase tickets, contact Ms. Tammy McCottry, director of special events,

803-535-5665, ( or to become a sponsor and make a financial contribution visit

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