Dr. Thomas Freeman, debate coach who taught MLK at Morehouse, dies

Dr. Thomas F. Freeman, the world-renowned orator and debate coach who once taught Martin Luther King Jr. at Atlanta’s Morehouse College and whose academic career spanned seven decades, has died. He passed away Saturday, only weeks shy of his 101st birthday.
Dr. Thomas F. Freeman, the world-renowned orator and debate coach who once taught Martin Luther King Jr. at Atlanta’s Morehouse College and whose academic career spanned seven decades, has died. He passed away Saturday, only weeks shy of his 101st birthday.

Credit: Social media photo

Credit: Social media photo

Dr. Thomas F. Freeman, the world-renowned orator and debate coach who once taught Martin Luther King Jr. at Atlanta’s Morehouse College and whose academic career spanned seven decades, has died.

He passed away Saturday, only weeks shy of his 101st birthday.

According to ABC News, Freeman was still teaching at the debate team headquarters at Texas Southern University, where he worked since 1949.

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Freeman gave one of his final public speeches just last year, when he was honored by the National Speech and Debate Association with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In a rousing speech at the ceremony, he urgently told young Americans “our destiny is now in your hands!”

He taught thousands, and his debate teams won countless national and international championships through the years. King graduated from Morehouse in 1948.

Other notable names who studied under Freeman's tutelage include late Reps. Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland, as well as Grammy Award-winning gospel singer Yolanda Adams, ABC reported.

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Freeman served as a consultant for the 2007 film “The Great Debaters” after Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington needed someone to coach up the actors in the film.

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Several lawmakers posted tributes to the late centenarian on Twitter.

Only days ago, Freeman and his wife, Clarice, gave an interview with Houston ABC affiliate KTRK on their secret to a 67-year marriage, the network reported.

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The university has established a memorial fund in Freeman's name that will help to continue the Texas Southern's Debate Team program.

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