It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Texas Southern University icon Dr. Thomas F. Freeman. The esteemed debate coach, orator and teacher began his career at TSU in 1949. pic.twitter.com/8XMltESbeE— Texas Southern University (@TexasSouthern) June 6, 2020
The debate coach, orator and teacher is known for training thousands of students to compete in speaking contests around the world, beating out competitors like Harvard and the University of Chicago.
RELATED: Legendary Texas Southern University debate coach Dr. Thomas Freeman turns 100
In more than six decades, Freeman earned thousands of awards of trophies for his service.
Freeman taught Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., congresswoman Barbara Jordan, congressman Mickey Leland, county commissioner Rodney Ellis, Grammy Award-winner Yolanda Adams, and even worked with actor Denzel Washington and a group of actors for the movie The Great Debaters.
Today, we have lost a legend. A truly free man, who made every effort to liberate and mold the minds of the generations of leaders behind him. Dr. Thomas F. Freeman was not only a great debater but a great husband and father, a great minister, a great man, and a great friend.— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) June 6, 2020
SEE MORE: TSU debate coach and his wife reflect on 67 years of marriage
During an interview with Freeman on his 100th birthday, as far as his legacy, he said, "There's nothing I want to leave. What I've done, I've done."
Tributes for Dr. Freeman are rolling in from people all over the world:
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released a statement saying how saddened he was to hear of the death. He shared how he was fortunate to present a proclamation to Dr. Freeman on his 100th birthday, and name a day in honor of his many accomplishments.
Turner ended by saying, "There will never be another Dr. Thomas F. Freeman. The remarkable centenarian was a legend in his own time, and the City of Houston will miss him."
Commissioner Rodney Ellis' Statement on Dr. Thomas Freeman's Death:
"Today, our community suffered a tremendous loss. Before I ever met Dr. Thomas Freeman, I, like many others, had heard of his talent and passion. It was an honor to join the many public figures who were lucky enough to have him as a debate coach at TSU. Through the years, we always remained close and he made sure to call me after he heard me speak to give me his unapologetic notes and critiques. Any ability I have as a public speaker, I owe to him and his lessons will always remain in the back of my mind anytime I give a speech. He is and will continue to be an inspiration to myself and so many others. This loss is felt throughout our entire community and our thoughts are with his wife of 67 years, Clarice, and his family. He was The Great Debater. Debater without peers!"
A MESSAGE BY CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE ON THE PASSING OF DR. THOMAS FREEMAN:
"A man full of history and a legacy that has no comparison. Dr. Freeman, a scholar, renown tenured professor and generous mentor to persons like myself that were emerging in public service. The Honorable Barbara Jordan, among others, benefited from his masterful coaching. Houston will not be the same without the eloquent oration and passion of Dr. Thomas Freeman. I was pleased to give him one of his most recent national awards, the Historic Phoenix Award by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington D.C. My deepest sympathy to his beloved wife and family and to the extended family of those members of the my Mount Horem Baptist Church, where he was Pastor for 69 years, and his unique family at Texas Southern University, where he coached for at least 70 years. The bright light he brought to this community and nation will shine eternally. May he Rest In Peace."
The video above is from an interview with Dr. Freeman on his 100th birthday.