Upon graduation from Greenwood High School, Sherman Freeman decided to join the U.S. Army, leaving his hometown in 1989.
He found the military experience wasn’t what he thought it would be.
Still, “I got to see the world,” said Freeman, who visited Australia, Guam, Hawaii and other places. “That’s the best part. It taught me discipline, and I did get to see the world.”
Freeman was drawn back home when he left the military in 1993. Since he’s been back, he’s engaged in a variety of ventures, such as serving as director of Mississippi Delta Community College’s Pathfinders program from 2009 to 2015 and serving as the director of Mississippi Valley State University’s High School Equivalency Program from 2015 to 2018.
As director of the Pathfinders program — a federal program that Freeman said is designed to “help black males become successful” — he reached out to young men in Greenwood and surrounding counties to help them get a better understanding of life and how to find their place. Mentors were assigned to the men to ensure they stayed on the right path.
Over his five-year tenure, Freeman said, the program had an 80% success rate, helping more than 1,000 young men.
In MVSU’s High School Equivalency Program, Freeman oversaw efforts to help migrants and seasonal workers and their families earn GEDs.
Earlier at MVSU, he worked as a transcript processor in the student records department, was then an academic adviser and then was a field liaison to help students find organizations for which to volunteer for community service.
Using a phrase popular among MVSU students, alumni and staff, Freeman said he sees the university as “an educational oasis in the Delta.”
“We need Valley in this area for economic reasons, to give the kids in this area somewhere to go,” he said.
Freeman earned a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation at MVSU, followed by a master’s in public policy and planning.
Earlier this month, he graduated from MVSU with a second master’s in sports administration. Two of his six children — son Jordan and daughter Kayla — also received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, respectively.
Freeman’s wife, Dr. Sherron Freeman, is an assistant vice president at MVSU.
“I believe that education is the key to life,” he said. “I’m always promoting education. All my life I’ve tried to promote it.”
With his new degree, Freeman would like to work as a coach or athletic director. For now, however, at the age of 50, he’s running a convenience store, Sherman’s Stop ‘N Shop, along Avenue I, which he’s done since June 2018.
“I always wanted to have my own business,” Freeman said, explaining that he wanted to come back to his home neighborhood, the Gritney neighborhood, which includes a portion of south Greenwood east of Main Street and south of Carrollton Avenue.
He said he lived in the neighborhood from the 1970s to the late 1990s and was in Baptist Town for a brief period.
Standing outside his store, Freeman scanned the neighborhood, letting the nostalgia sweep over him.
“At one time, all my family lived over here. I had my uncles, my aunts, my cousins; we all lived in this area back when I was growing up,” he said.
On occasion, drivers and pedestrians waved to Freeman as they passed his store. “It makes me always want to come back to this area,” said Freeman, who now lives on River Road.
Though Freeman affirmed that Gritney has always been a working class neighborhood, he’s become saddened by the number of empty lots that once were occupied by houses.
“When I was living here, there was houses on top of houses. Every nook and cranny there was a house. All that empty lot right there was houses,” Freeman said, pointing across the street.
“I would like to see all these empty lots filled with some nice places for people to live.”
Additionally, he’d like to see some spaces dedicated for recreation to get children “out of the streets and away from dangerous situations.”
He gestured towards the yard behind the back of his store, saying kids will play there. “They need a park, some place with equipment on them.”
Having now established himself, he hopes he can be a source of inspiration for the younger generation living in Gritney.
“No matter how you come up, you can always do better. …You can live a better life if you aspire to do better, if you compete with yourself.”
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.