Legendary TSU debate coach Dr. Thomas Freeman dies at 100

HOUSTON – Texas Southern University’s legendary debate coach Dr. Thomas Franklin Freeman died Saturday. He was 100 years old.

The distinguished Professor of Forensics and iconic coach led the University’s award-winning Debate Team to scores of regional, national and international competitions. He also instructed such iconic national and global figures as Representative Barbara Jordan and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Iconic to say the least. We were so blessed to have him for more than 70 years influencing the minds of students, and adults, at TSU.  I personally am thankful to have had the opportunity to meet him,” TSU Interim President Kenneth Huewitt said.

He touched so many lives and former students thought of him as more than a professor, he was a father figure.

“Dr. Freeman created a home for us. We never had to fight for computers in the computer lab, we never had to find a place to study or find a place to rehearse. He made sure the debate office was open and available to us seven days a week.  Dr. Freeman taught us to have pride in our work. He made it clear that we compete and win to bring prestige to out university. He gave us a family,” said Antréchelle Dorsey, TSU Debate Team President (2017-2018 & 2018-2019). “He taught us how to eat together, win together and to stand together. I am forever grateful for the example of servant leadership that Dr. Freeman has shown me. Dr. Freeman also taught us how to present ourselves in a manner that epitomizes not only what he stood for, but what all the great men and women who came before us stood for : Excellence in Achievement. He’s had an immeasurable impact on my life, and I am FOREVER grateful.”

As noted on TSU’s website, when Academy Award winner Denzel Washington was preparing for one of his major performances – as a debate coach – he needed the help of a master in this specialty. After a search for what he called the best debate coach “in the world,” he selected Dr. Freeman. Under Freeman’s guidance, Washington and his creative team produced one of the actor’s most exhilarating movie masterpieces, “The Great Debaters.”

In 2009, following the recommendation of TSU President John M. Rudley, the TSU Board of Regents named one of the university’s newest academic unit the Thomas F. Freeman Honors College. The university believes Dr. Freeman’s legacy will inspire scholars in the Honors College, students in the University, and leaders in the nation and the world.

A life well-lived. RIP

Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

Scroll to Top