Name: Linda Coach-Riley
our "icon": dr. thomas f. freeman
When Academy Award winner Denzell 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. Thomas Franklin Freeman of Texas Southern University to provide that help. With the insights and guidance of Dr. Freeman, Washington and his creative team then went on to produce one of the most exhilarating movie masterpieces, The Great Debaters.
Washington tapped into the more than 60 years of service and success that has made Dr. Freeman an icon of TSU, the African American community, the United States, and the world. Indeed, for his exceedingly acclaimed service to these communities, Dr. Freeman won a commendation from the 80th Legislative session of the Texas State Senate.
The commendation was presented by Sen. Rodney Ellis, a TSU alumnus and a former member of the TSU debate team Dr. Freeman has coached to scores of national and international awards. It would have won the endorsement of the late Rep. Barbara Jordan, the iconic member of the Watergate committee of the United States House of Representatives. She was one of his students, and a member of the University’s debating team that competed under his supervision.
Dr. Freeman, a professor of psychology and philosophy at TSU, has taught at Morehouse College, Virginia Union University, Houston Community College and Rice University. At Morehouse, he taught one of the nation’s and the world’s greatest orators and most inspiring leaders, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The commendation, State Senate Resolution 942 says, “Whereas, throughout his long and productive career, Dr. Freeman has been a mentor and role model to countless students throughout the years; now, therefore, be it resolved that the Senate of the State of Texas 80th Legislature hereby commend(s) Dr. Thomas Freeman for his many years of service to the students of Texas Southern University, and extend(s) to him best wishes in all of his endeavors.”
In 2009, following the recommendation of TSU President John M. Rudley, the TSU Board of Regents named the newest TSU academic unit the Thomas F. Freeman Honors College. The College and University believe that the person and legacy of Dr. Freeman will inspire scholars in the College, students in the University, and leaders in the nation and the world, for a “millennium.”