Iconic debate team coach dies at 100

Dr. Thomas Freeman, who was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1919, was the beloved debate coach at Texas Southern University since 1949.
3:15 | 06/10/20

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Transcript for Iconic debate team coach dies at 100
Finally, the legendary debate coach. Eight decades at Texas southern university, teaching until the end. And tonight, his students determined to make him proud. Dr. Thomas Freeman was born on June 27th, 1919 in Richmond, Virginia. I came, the '60s, the '70s. Reporter: He was Tsu's debate coach and he was a legend. His students winning thousands of competitions over the years. Dr. Freeman remembering the moment Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. Approached him at a dinner. He stuck out his hand and said, Dr. Freeman, you don't remember me, but I remember you. You taught me. Reporter: Dr. Freeman was just days from turning 101. He was still shaping minds. We spent time with the debate time. Just a positive, beautiful experience that I'll never forget. Reporter: The debate team president. And you talk about a man that came to work every day, at even 100. When we weren't there, he was still at work. Reporter: And every student remembers their first interaction with Dr. Freeman. He would point to the piles of prose, of poetry in his office, telling the students to select something. And then, to read it. It was about more than debating, it was presentation, how to carry yourself, how to be heard. This was your first time interacting with Dr. Freeman. Yes. He does that with every single one of us. And you're really nervous, because you have never done this I went in there, like, I want to debate, because I want to be a lawyer, and he'll say, louder! Make sure to correct you, it's often, don't say it wrong. Reporter: Never say it that way again. Yeah. Reporter: And they all told me they know what he would expect in this time. It's a heavy time in America. And what would Dr. Freeman want from each of you in this moment? I think that Dr. Freeman, because he has always encouraged us not only to be articulate, but vocalize our flight in a way in which we can have the best outcome for ourselves. Meaning that he's always pushed us to do our best. It's in our motto, we all know what we do, we do well, what we don't do well, we don't do it all. Reporter: The faces that you see, black, white, Latino, from every race, every background, every story, part of these protests. Do you sense it's a turning point? Absolutely do. Reporter: What's your message to the country right now? There's always hope. That you can always be better. That you don't have to settle. I think the message would be, there's power in your voice. You should definitely use it. Definitely. Reporter: Well, I would say to your debate team, keep winning. We'll try. Keep winning. Vowing to carry the torch. It's about more than winning, he would say, and they already made Dr. Freeman proud. Thank you for watching here tonight. I'm David Muir. For all of us here ABC have news, have a good evening.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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