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Thomas F. Freeman Collection, no. 29 - Dr. Freeman in Liberia and Sierra Leone (1973)

Thomas F. Freeman

Silent | 1973

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  •  Villagers in Liberia dancing to percussion instruments 
  •  Children of the village 
  •  Villagers performing a Jobai dance 
  •  Talking and walking with villagers 
  •  Church service 
  •  Cotton Tree in Freetown, Sierra Leone 
  •  Catholic parade 
  •  Chimpanzee in a cage 
  •  Sign for the Institute for African Studies 
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This home movie captures scenes of Dr. Thomas F. Freeman’s visit to the West Africa in 1973. Scenes of village life in Liberia, such as villagers dancing to various percussion instruments, church services, farming, children playing, and village scenery comprise the first half of this video. Of particular interest is footage of villagers performing the Jobai dance, a traditional haystack dance in which a dancer wears a costume made of liana, a native hay-like grass, that causes him to look like a large mound of hay. The dancer alternately twirls violently and lays flat, losing shape, and represents a forest monster. The second half of the video documents Freeman’s time in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Freeman captures images of the Cotton Tree, a historic symbol of Freetown that represents freedom from slavery. Freeman also attends a Catholic parade and explores Fourah Bay College while in Freetown.
Dr. Thomas F. 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. Many decades later, Dr. Freeman is still a professor and debate coach at TSU, 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 more than 65 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.