Our Icon: Dr. Thomas Franklin Freeman

Texas Southern University (TSU) named its Honors College after Dr. Thomas Franklin Freeman, Distinguished Professor of Forensics and legendary coach who led the University’s award-winning Debate Team to scores of regional, national and international competitions.

Dr. Freeman instructed such iconic national and global figures as Representative Barbara Jordan and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and advised Academy Award winner Denzel Washington in the movie, The Great Debaters.  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. 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. Dr. Freeman has coached countless debaters who have won scores of national and international awards.

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 university believes that the person and the legacy of Dr. Freeman will inspire scholars in the Honors College, students in the University, and leaders in the nation and the world.