New Releases: January 2013


We are excited to announce the addition of the Thomas F. Freeman Collection to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image this January. This 93-video home movie collection comes from the family of Dr. Thomas F. Freeman and documents his career as a professor and debate coach at prestigious Houston universities, his home life, and his service as a minister at Houston’s Mt. Horem Baptist Church.

Dr. Freeman was born in 1919 in Richmond, Virginia, where he also spent his childhood and attended college. Freeman left Virginia temporarily to serve a nine month contract at Houston’s Texas Southern University in 1949. Almost 64 years later, Dr. Freeman is still a professor and debate coach at TSU, still on campus six days a week, and has helped multiple generations of young Texan African-American students find their voice and rise to new heights of scholarly achievement. A pillar of the Houston community, Dr. Freeman also has ministered at Mt. Horem Baptist Church for 63 years, still delivering sermons every Sunday, taught Religious Studies at Rice University for 20 years, helped found Houston’s Model Cities program, founded and served as Dean of TSU’s Weekend College, was the Founding Dean of TSU’s Honors College, and over the course of his teaching career, taught and influenced many prominent African-Americans leaders, including Otis King, Barbara Jordan, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Later this month, TAMI will release a longer feature on Dr. Freeman where you can hear the great orator tell stories as he watches his home movies, including anecdotes about Barbara Jordan, MLK, and being one of (perhaps the) first African-American professors at Rice University. Until then, watch some of the hidden gems of this beautiful collection, which spans from 1968-1976.

Thomas F. Freeman Collection, no. 29 - Dr. Freeman in Liberia and Sierra Leone (1973) documents Dr. Freeman’s trip to Africa to check on TSU students in the Peace Corps and visit with Liberia’s Minister of Culture and Education, a classmate from Virginia Union University. The footage includes a fascinating performance by Liberian villagers of a traditional whirling haystack dance named the Jobai dance. This intriguing film quickly became a TAMI favorite! Another highlight of Dr. Freeman’s travel films is his visit to Los Angeles on behalf of the Model Cities program where he visits an urban farm and the Watts Towers.

Thomas F. Freeman Collection, no. 14 - Christmas Celebrations (1969) shows the family celebrating Christmas by making their traditional popcorn balls, the young girls in the family riding their new banana-seat bicycles, and the adults attending a fancy cocktail party with their friends and colleagues. See some great 70s roller-skating and church fashion when the Freemans visit their family in Virginia in Thomas F. Freeman Collection, no. 5 - Rollerskating and Trip to Richmond, VA (1973). The Freemans and the Mt. Horem congregation visit Conroe for an outdoor church service, swimming, canoeing, and camping in this picturesque video.

In Thomas F. Freeman Collection, no. 6 - TSU Homecoming Parade and Groundbreaking Ceremony (1973), watch the university’s Greek organizations and marching band celebrate homecoming, followed by TSU’s President Granville M. Sawyer presiding over a groundbreaking ceremony.  And as a Houston history bonus, watch Dr. Freeman’s footage of Evel Knievel performing his historic 13 car jump at the Astrodome in 1971!

Enjoy and check back later this month for more on Dr. Freeman!