Theresa Freeman: Superwoman
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.
Theresa Freeman is one of the leading ladies of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, a state committee-woman, district leader for the 70th district and a well-known activist. But with the numerous positions and titles she holds, it's her mission to inform people about kidney health. That's her true passion. With her organization, the Kidney Network, she travels the country informing patients who are diabetic and suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease about the importance of taking care of their kidneys. While Freeman doesn't suffer from any of these ailments, she goes to dialysis three days a week. "In 2001, I became ill and I was in a coma for seven days," she said. "My kidney began to deteriorate."
Born in Augusta, Ga., Freeman said she had a good life growing up down South. She credits her parents for giving her "home training," through which she learned not only respect for others but also respect for herself.
While living in Georgia, she was a member of Ward Chapel A.M.E Church, where she learned about how to be an activist. She credits the church for teaching her how to deal with different issues.
Freeman came to New York in 1971 to build a school, but instead, she got involved in politics. She became involved with activism with the Association of Black Social Workers protesting on various issues. Over the last 30 years, she's also worked at Reality House in Queens, where she works with veterans and their families.
Getting deeper into politics, she began working for different politicians on their campaigns. She's held the position of district leader for two terms, serving a total of four years, and also volunteers at Keith Wright's office.
"When I got into politics, I was working for Assemblyman Keith Wright's father, Judge Bruce Wright, who became a State Supreme Court justice," she said. "I worked on the campaigns for Keith Wright, David Paterson and David Dinkins." She was introduced to
Sharpton in the 1990s and has been working with him since his offices were in Brooklyn. At NAN, she serves as president of the Women's Auxiliary and is cabinet president of the New York chapter. Freeman has been with NAN for the last 12 years.
In her work with kidney health, she has gone to Capitol Hill to inform Congress about the need for better help with the issue. Freeman credits Rep. Charlie Rangel, whose brother died of kidney failure, for supporting her on the issue. She said, "He's a true believer that patients are the ones that need to discuss this issue. He'd rather hear from them, and I salute the congressman." Freeman said that high blood pressure and diabetes are key factors that can lead to kidney failure. She advocates for people to take their medications and go to the dialysis treatments. She especially advocates the need for African-Americans to take special care when is comes to the health issue.
"A lot of people don't know that high blood pressure and diabetes are major factors of having kidney problems," she said. "People have to understand that if they are on medication, they need to take it. As African-Americans, we must watch what we eat and watch our weight."