In Memoriam: Thomas Franklin Freeman, 1919-2020

Thomas Freeman, the legendary debate coach and faculty member at Texas Southern University in Houston, died on June 6. He was 100 years old.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Freeman delivered his first sermon at the age of 9. He graduated from high school at the age of 15 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English at Virginia Union University and a bachelor’s degree in divinity from the Andover Newton Seminary in Massachusetts. Dr. Freemann earned a doctorate in homiletics from the University of Chicago.

After a short term as a visiting professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he taught Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Freeman began his career at what is now Texas Southern University in 1949 as a professor of philosophy. Intending to return to Richmond to become pastor of the Carmel Baptist Church, Dr. Freeman was persuaded to stay on as the debate coach at the university. He remained affiliated with the university for 71 years, although he retired from teaching at the age of 93.

During his tenure at Texas Southern, Dr. Freeman also taught at Rice University in Houston and Houston Community College. In 2009, the Texas Southern University board of regents named the new Honors College after Dr. Freeman.


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