By: Noel Harris
October 6, 2023
As reporters and supporters gather at Durham City Hall, Councilwoman DeDreana Freeman stands about ten feet away with an unforgettable presence.
Council member Monique Holsey-Hyman addresses being cleared of extortion allegations before turning her attention to Freeman. She says Freeman supported her during it all. She says Freeman risked her own reputation to defend someone facing injustices.
This is just one example of Freeman’s advocacy.
“To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)
This statement is more than a verse from the Bible. Freeman says it describes her upbringing. It describes her extensive record; it explains the power in her voice and how she actively lives by the message of this biblical truth – to whom much is give, much is required.
It provides a deeper understanding of the passion that fuels her advocacy.
She believes she is called to use her gifts to help others.
As a native of New Jersey, Freeman was raised in a single parent household in New York. She’s the oldest of 10 children and supported her mother by helping raise six younger siblings.
“As the oldest of so many, I am built in leading, defending and advocating on behalf of all because of how my family was set up,” said Freeman.
Freeman’s younger sister died last year after living with a disability. Freeman helped served as her caregiver while teaching her the importance of equity.
“I think it’s critical, in these times, especially with all that’s going on, that we have someone in leadership that understands what equity means,” said Freeman.
Freeman has worked in the local, state and federal governments. She grew up in the inner city, utilizing food stamps and government resources. She not only sees the importance of these resources but has first-hand experience on both sides.
Freeman says she wants to do everything in her ability to provide support for Durham’s children living in the same circumstances she once experienced.
“I want to make sure there are resources available for any child, every child, to have the opportunity to get a good education and to get through college,” said Freeman. “Then to also have the opportunity to work or build their business.”
Freeman says underrepresented members of Durham need someone who understands their struggle. Someone who knows how to make changes within the current system.
“The intentionality to make sure everyone has access whether you’re Black, white, green or purple and then whether your able body or not,” said Freeman. “There are barriers created by our system, if you’re not intentionally looking at those barriers, then people can be left behind.”
Freeman says some people are unable to see and understand these barriers the way she does due to their privilege. She believes success in elected office requires the ability to see how various parts of the system work together while stressing the need for addressing barriers hindering success.
Freeman has thoughts regarding how to address problems related to Durham’s parks.
“When addressing the parks, there has to be the health education aspect to it, there has to be the preparatory aspect to it, just knowing the historic nature of how environmental justice shows up for people of color,” said Freeman.
Freeman says a strategy to support the residents of Durham is needed. It’s the government’s approach that will be key in reaching everyone. It is one thing to have these resources, but if Durhamites don’t know about them, they will not be as beneficial.
“We need to be more than just welcoming; we need to be actively engaging and making sure they understand what their government is doing and how it impacts them,” said Freeman.
Her voice grew enthusiastic when discussing the future of government access and what that means for Durham’s future generations.
“Watching the access and resources disappear for the future generations means that there’s a lack of access for people in my same circumstances growing up,” said Freeman.
Freeman lives in the inner city and sees the need for social, economic and environmental support for Durham’s underrepresented groups.
From working to create jobs for city residents to working to build sustainable housing and transportation in Durham, Freeman believes she is the best candidate for mayor.
“I’ve been focused on advocating for underrepresented groups for the past five years and I will continue to do that as mayor,” said Freeman.
Edited by Carl Kenney