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Dr. Thomas F. Freeman delivers last speech at Barbara Jordan Lecture Series

Written by on July 24, 2020

By: Isaiah Robinson

HOUSTON—Legendary Texas Southern University debate coach Dr. Thomas F. Freeman spoke at the 19th Annual Barbara Jordan Lecture Series “The Pursuit of Excellence in the Forensic Arts” on Feb. 12, 2020; it would be one of his last speeches before transitioning on June 6, 2020.

Prestige, respect and greatness stood in front of and around the TSU students and current debate members at the Paige Education Building Auditorium.

Former debate members like Dr. James Race, who was a part of the first debate team at TSU and Rev. Gwen Pierre, member of the 1969-1972 debate team, were in attendance.

The annual lecture series honors the TSU debate legend Barbara Jordan for her work inside and out the illustrious institution; plus, a speech is given from past debate team members to encourage students and current debaters to always strive for the standard of excellence.

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best ,” Freeman said.

Moreover, the lecture series included a spiritual awakening, a video tribute to Jordan, a speech from Freeman, past debate members giving words of encouragement to the students and a performance from the TSU debate team.

Dr. Freeman gave his uplifting speech about achieving your goals, striving for excellence, continuing to perfect your craft, not letting your enemies get in the way and not stooping to low-level behavior.

“If we are to achieve forensic excellence, you have to go against the enemy. One of those is that of procrastination,” Freeman said. “Putting off what you should do today for tomorrow, but by then you would be in so many activities that you would never get around to doing it. So, the excellence you thought you achieved, escaped you.”

After Dr. Freeman’s uplifting speech, past debate members gathered around the Head Coach Emeritus for pictures and gave jewels of wisdom to the crowd.

“You must hone your skill. Even if it is your gift, God does not give gifts that are not to be honed,” said 1994-1999 debate member Takasha Francis. “Which means you must practice and you must be the best at your craft. What you do, you do well and what you don’t well; you don’t do at all.”

Other past members showed thanks and gratitude to the founder of the TSU debate team.

“Thank you for pouring into me as a debater. It’s been a joy to learn from you; to almost in many ways become like you,” Pierre said. “I am better because of you and I’m thankful that you’re here to see the fruits of your labor.” 

The lecture series was a motivating, positive, honorable, inspirational and impactful event for students who attended.

“It’s impacted me to be a better speaker and debater,” said TSU senior and debate member Nicole West. “Bringing so many from the past and displaying the great things the debate team is doing now and can do in the future, is amazing to me.”

 TSU freshman and interdisciplinary studies major Aenise Miller echoed West’s sentiments.

“Having the opportunity to be a part of this lecture feels like stepping back in history as a Historically Black College,” Miller said. “Being a part of this moment opens your mind to so much more and to many legends that people need to hear about.”