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Dining hall employee Ernest Freeman enjoys writing poetry in his free time

Ernest Freeman, a Rams Head Dining Hall employee from Chapel Hill, sits at a table in the dining hall where he works on Tuesday afternoon. Freeman has been writing poems since he was five years old. 

Ernest Freeman, a Rams Head Dining Hall employee from Chapel Hill, sits at a table in the dining hall where he works on Tuesday afternoon. Freeman has been writing poems since he was five years old. 

Freeman works all over the dining hall, serving burgers and fries to weary underclassmen.

But odds are you didn’t know you were also meeting Ernest the poet, born and raised in Chapel Hill.

He is a man of many talents, both in the kitchen and with a pen.

“I do a little bit of everything — grill, diner, chophouse, beverages — whatever they need me to do,” Freeman said.

Freeman has been writing poetry since he was five years old.

“I’m just a writer,” he said. “I can’t draw because I never learned how to draw, but I’ve always learned how to write.”

Freeman said he would never forget winning a writing competition in sixth grade.

“My sixth grade teacher always told me never to stop what I was doing,” he said.

And he never has.

Freeman said he mostly writes about love and children, but he has also written poetry for weddings, funerals and anniversaries.

“A lot of times you can say things to people that they take the wrong way, so I like to express all my feelings on paper,” he said.

Deborah Paige, a Rams Head Dining Hall employee, grew up with Freeman.

They went to the same middle and high schools, and Freeman used to write poems for her.

“He is an awesome guy. A very fun, caring, outgoing person,” Paige said. “When he gets to know people and cares about them, he loves to write them poetry.”

Freshman Riley Foster met Freeman when she was getting a drink in the dining hall.

“We would always smile at each other and say ‘hey,’ and then we started talking more,” she said.

“One day he told me he wrote poems, and then he wrote one for me.”

“It made me cry; it was so sweet.”

Freeman said he mainly tries to share his poetry with students not only to reach out as a friend, but also to make them stop and think about the world.

On Monday, Freeman said he wrote a short story on racism.

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“It was about why people think color should make a difference, because we all live in this world together so we all should be able to get along in this world no matter if you’re black or white, pink or blue, we all got to do it together,” Freeman said.

“When God created us, he didn’t say this world is for the white man and this world is for the black man, and this is for the Jew and this is for the Arab — he put us all together to love one another.”

Foster said she was amazed to discover Freeman’s hidden talents.

“I like his poetry because it just seems really honest, and the fact that he’s not writing it for anything but himself,” she said.

Freeman said he hopes to publish his work someday, but he’s not trying to become famous.

“I just want to put something out there for people to read and they can say, ‘I enjoy this and next time I’m in Rams Head, I can meet Mr. Ernest and talk to him about it and tell him how much I really like his poetry,’” he said with a smile.

university@dailytarheel.com