September 30, 2023

Living Legend

Dr. Thomas Freeman is a distinguished professor emeritus of Texas Southern University, who has dedicated scores of service in educating and coaching students from around the world. He is a former professor of psychology and philosophy at: Morehouse College, Virginia Union University, Houston Community College, Rice University and Texas Southern University. Dr. Freeman has educated some of the world’s most influential leaders in the African-American community, including, the late U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 2007, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington sought Dr. Freeman as a consultant for the 2007 movie, The Great Debaters.

A college graduate by age 18 and a Virginia Union University professor in his 20s, Freeman was among the Black intellectuals hired in 1949 to teach at what was then Texas State University for Negroes. That year, he staged a debate in his logic class drawing from his own undergraduate experiences. Students begged him to coach a debate team that soon found success at out-of-town tournaments.

Freeman is perhaps best-known for founding and coaching TSU’s highly acclaimed debate team, which has won hundreds of awards, traveled the globe and during the period when Freeman and King became re-acquainted, helped desegregate college forensics.
An advocate for strong debate skills that translate readily into broad life skills, Freeman pushes students hard, occasionally resulting in them shedding a tear or two as they strive to please him.

A TSU professor of philosophy since 1949, Freeman has taught and influenced generation after generation of college students, may rising to the top in fields of law, education and government. For Freeman, educating young people is as much a calling as one that led him into the ministry. He serves as Pastor at Mt. Horem Baptist Church in Houston.

In 2009, Texas Southern named its newest academic unit the Thomas F. Freeman Honors College and Freeman is its founding dean. He has also led TSU’s Forensics department.

Source: Lamar University Archives

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