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Remembering Dr. Thomas F. Freeman

The Texas Archive of the Moving Image team was saddened to learn about the passing of Dr. Thomas F. Freeman last weekend. Dr. Freeman served Texas Southern University for more than 70 years as a professor of philosophy and founder of both the TSU Debate Team and Weekend College, influencing countless lives and prominent Black leaders, including Otis King and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. He was 100 years old.

TAMI had the honor of digitizing the Dr. Thomas F. Freeman Collection almost a decade ago, and it remains one of our most cherished. Its 93 videos document not only his academic career at prestigious Houston universities but also his home life and ministerial service at Mt. Horem Baptist Church. To commemorate Dr. Freeman’s life and legacy, we wanted to share highlights from his home movie collection for others to enjoy. 

Dr. Freeman in Liberia and Sierra Leone (1973)

This home movie documents Dr. Freeman's trip to Africa, where he checked on TSU students serving in the Peace Corps and visited Liberia's Minister of Culture and Education. The footage includes a performance of the traditional Jobai dance.


Christmas Celebrations (1969) 

Dr. Freeman and his wife, Clarice, were married for 67 years and raised three children. Here, the Freeman family celebrates the holidays by making popcorn balls. The adults later attend a cocktail party with friends and colleagues.


TSU Homecoming Parade and Groundbreaking Ceremony (1973)

Watch the university's Greek organizations and marching band celebrate homecoming, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony presided over by TSU's President Granville M. Sawyer.

In 2012, former TAMI staff member, Madeline Moya, sat down with Dr. Freeman to watch and discuss his home movies. Audio recordings of their conversation include anecdotes about Barbara Jordan, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and being one of the first (if not the first) Black professors at Rice University.


Dr. Freeman Reflects on His Relationship with Martin Luther King Jr.


Dr. Freeman Reflects on Becoming a Minister at Mt. Horem Baptist Church


Dr. Freeman Reflects on His Relationship with Barbara Jordan


"As part of my work at TAMI, I watched hundreds of hours of Dr. Freeman at work and with his family. One of the gifts of being an archivist is to get to interact with the lives of community and national icons in such personal ways. It will always be a high point of my career and a true honor that I got to see and learn so much of Dr. Freeman’s story. It was an even greater honor that he let me talk to him about his life at his office at Texas Southern University in 2012. This man was 100 years old and still showing up for students every day. What a profound loss for Houston, but what an incredible life lived."
— Madeline Moya, former TAMI Managing Director
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