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For the Adult Swim television special, see Freaknik: The Musical.

Freaknik was an annual spring break meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, primarily of students from historically black colleges and universities.[1] Begun in 1983 as a small picnic near the Atlanta University Center, it was initially sponsored by the DC Metro Club [1] and was typically held during the third weekend in April to coincide with the schools of the Atlanta University Center's Reading Day. The event increased in size and popularity in the 1990s with dancing, drinking, parties, a basketball tournament, rap sessions, a film festival and a job fair.[2]The D.C. Metro Club that started the freaknic was not from Clark University. The D.C. Metro Club consisted of college students from Morehouse College and Spelman College.


Freaknik was conceived in March 1983 in a dorm room on the second-floor of Thurman Hall at Morehouse College when Pat Stanback, a member of the DC Metro club, was challenged by a member of the California club about who would throw the biggest party.  Pat brought the idea to the President of the DC Metro club and they voted on the name and sponsored the first Freaknik in April, 1983 at John White Park in Atlanta.  The first few years alternated between John White Park and Adams Park with them announcing the location at the last minute in hopes of evading police.

Many students from the AUC, Atlanta University Center, attended and partied to music provided by Flash Attack Inc.. DJ Bam Bam Barney and DJ Flash did the first 2 annual gatherings. As it grew, the festival attracted upwards of 250,000 revelers to the city. However, as the freaknik grew in attendance Atlantans' reception of the festival was mixed. Many residents had attended and enjoyed Freaknik since it was started. Otherwise, Freaknik went largely unnoticed by most of the city.

The problems with Freaknik began in 1993, when the number of people coming to Atlanta for the event suddenly doubled to more than 80,000.

Many residents believe the City of Atlanta was caught off guard in 1993 by the increased number of people who came to the city for Freaknik. In some areas, the massive increase in cars on the road caused traffic to come to a halt, and the revelers got out of their cars and started roaming the streets. This in turn caused panic in some areas where people could not get home from their jobs, and they were trapped in areas where many revelers started harassing and yelling obscenities at residents. There were also several reports of violence, looting, rapes and other sexual assaults. All this showed Freaknik in a negative light, and Atlanta residents demanded that the city get control of the event.[3][4][5][6][6][7]

Social problems[edit]

Things came to a head in 1994-96, after the event swelled to 250,000 people from around the country, and as the crowds grew larger, so did the problems. With tens of thousands of more cars on the city's streets, many of Atlanta's major thoroughfares became gridlocked, which disrupted the day-to-day lives of the city's residents and impaired emergency services.[3]

Freaknik moves[edit]

Many Atlanta residents filed lawsuits and business and community leaders pressured Mayor Bill Campbell to end Freaknik or severely crack down on the event. By 1996, the Atlanta police were out in large numbers, making it difficult for the revelers to party in the streets and engage in other illegal behavior.[3] After city leaders took measures to curtail Freaknik's accessibility, its popularity faded. As a result, Freaknik moved East of Atlanta to Memorial Drive in DeKalb County, then to Daytona Beach, Florida. By 1999, celebration of the festival had died down due to heightened police security.

In April 2010, Atlanta officials said "there are no permitted Freaknik-related events inside the city limits." Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also said that "he will be tough and even sue organizers of any Freaknik-related activities who violate city guidelines".[8]

Cultural influence[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Suggs, Ernie (2008-04-14). "Street party became its own undoing". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2008-04-14. It was a heck of a run. From 1983 until 1999, Freaknik — the college picnic that morphed into a sprawling street party — tormented, titillated and drove Atlanta to the brink. 
  2. ^ "Black students converge on Atlanta for Freaknik". CNN. 1997-04-18. Among the other activities planned are a party at a downtown club hosted by Michael Bivins of the hip-hop group "New Edition," a basketball tournament, rap sessions, a film festival and a daylong job fair. 
  3. ^ a b c "Should We Freak Out Over Freaknik? – IL Humanities". Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-03-22. 
  5. ^ Kirby, Joseph A. (1997-04-18). "Atlanta Braces Itself For Annual 'Freaknik' Spring Break". Seattle Times Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Atlanta News / Georgia News Section | AJC". Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  8. ^ "Reed: Atlanta will not tolerate Freaknik-related trouble". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2010-04-15. 
  9. ^ "The Freaknik Is Back... Sort Of | Live | Fashion. Music. Lifestyle". 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2016-07-15.