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Friknik, meaning to fraternize and have a picnic, was an annual spring break meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, primarily of students from historically black colleges and universities. Later during the early 1990s, those who did not understand the meaning of Friknik mispronounced it as Freaknik and it caught like wildfire.  Begun in 1983 as a small picnic near the Atlanta University Center, it was initially sponsored by the DC Metro Club  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.
Freaknic was conceived in March 1982 on Spelman's campus during a meeting headed by then Spelman club president Skyla Goodson. The event was an end of the year party for the DC Metro Club ( Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia students). Further, the event was to be a challenge to California Club "Earth Quake Jam" party promoted by Daryl Baptiste Miller member of the California Club, who would throw the biggest end of school party.
The California Club had had a party in late March, 1983 in which the floor of the house had caved in while students partied. Then they followed up with a party call called "Earth Quake Jam 2. " DJ Randy T was the DJ. Under the club President of the DC Metro club Skyla Goodson, the name Freaknic was born. The name was a combination of Freaky and Picnic. It was a complete wholesome student pot luck in the park with occasional dancing. DJ Nab of New York and Daryl Baptiste Miller (both students at Morehouse College) were the first DJs. The first Freaknic was held at John A. White Park April 1982. There were no more than 150 students who attended. In years to come the event grew to as many as 70,000 college students from around the country.
In 1988, then Spelman President Jennetta B. Cole banned the D.C. metro club from being involved with the event known as Freaknic. Once the event was banned from the Spelman charted D.C. metro club, the club asked Daryl Baptiste Miller to take over the event. The Garage night club owner, Ed Ruckers, night club owners Jeff of Club XS, fraternities ( Georgia Tech Omega's) began promoting the third weekend of April as Freaknik weekend. Off campus entities not knowing its origination and intent began mistakenly spelling it as Freaknik with a "K". At the time the connotation was insulting to the Atlanta University Students who knew its rightful name. There was no mistake in how the name was changed, Ronn Greene and Diya Nabawi, intentionally change the spelling of the name, to register Freaknik with the State Of Georgia in 1993. Then night club owner (the Garage) Ed Ruckers and a female promoter named Vanis from D.C. promoted the event using the spelling "Freaknik". The name with a "k" was an effort to avoid legal service mark infringments. The events nature changed from being a wholesome HBCU family reunion type event, to an event of nudity and wild partying, traffic jams, massive numbers of rapes, robberies, etc once none Atlanta University Center Students started promoting Freaknik as a provocative event.
Once the event became open to the general public, people from across the U.S. Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe came to Freaknic. As it grew, the festival attracted upwards of 350,000 revelers to the city in 1991. As Freaknic grew in attendance home owner's and businesses reception of the event became mixed.
Under pressure from the Piedmont Park area neighborhood Associations, then Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell banned Freaknic and put up road blocks through out freeway exists in the City of Atlanta in 1996.
The problems with Freaknic began in 1990, when the number of people coming to Atlanta for the event suddenly grew from 80,000 to more than 200,000 without any specific destination.
With major conventions in town, Freaknic participants cars block the cities other events from having access to venues. 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 danced in the streets, on top of cars and buses. This in turn caused panic in some areas where people could not get home from their jobs. There were also several reports of violence, looting, rapes and other sexual assaults. All this showed Freaknic in a negative light. Though there was increased crime in the City of Atlanta, there were non students who came to the city that committed crimes. Of the major crimes committed during the Freaknic weekends, less than 1 percent were college students.
THIS SITE WAS NECESSARY
for a number of reasons. Over the years we have been asked the question many times, whatever happen to FREAKNIK, why don’t Atlanta hold the event anymore, how did it start, who started it, and so forth. Well, it time that we answer all of your questions. Now you may ask, what quantifies us to answer any question about FREAKNIK, well I will tell you a little about my involvement with the event. We may be some of the foremost experts on this subject; I myself have had a very long and very intents history when it comes to FREAKNIK. In 1992, I was the production manager of the first organized festival, held at Lakewood Fairgrounds, In 1993 I was co-promoter of the event, and in that same year, I along with a partner (Diya Nabawi) would register the state held Trademark on the name which would change the spelling of the name forever (from Freaknic to Freaknik), In 1994 I became the Head promoter at Lakewood Fairgrounds, were we bought in the big guns Production Manger D Venson who was also a college classmate (MBI), and in 1996 we ( Tommie Butler, The Cyber Group, Dennis Shaw, and I) developed the website FREAKNIK.COM. This website was said to have introduced more Africans Americans to the use of the internet than any other source that had existed before us, an unheard of 20 million unique visitors by the year 1997. We may have well been the platform for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, as we introducing these social networks at their earliest stages. We were in some cases, 10 years ahead of theses (4) social media sites. And here’s OUR proof:
FREAKNIK.COM Founded Nov. 1995
Twitter · Founded Feb 04, 2006
YouTube · Founded Mar 21, 2006
Facebook · Founded Feb 14, 2005
Instagram · Founded 2010
NOW, what you will experience with OURFREAKNIK.COM is our recollection from day one to now, and what we see for the future of the event. Our goals for 2022 (The 40th Year Anniversary) which will be called “COLLEGE SUPERFEST”. and we invite you all to be involved in the planning. We are going to need as much of your input as you can give, we are now calling for ” ALL MINDS ON DECK”. Get ready to experience the Evolution of Spring Breaks.
This is OURFREAKNIK.COM, and it’s up to us to show the world, that…BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. THIS WILL BE THE NEXT BIG THING. `Ronn Greene
Many Atlanta businesses filed lawsuits and business and community leaders pressured Mayor Bill Campbell to end Freaknic 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. After city leaders took measures to curtail Freaknic's accessibility, its popularity faded. As a result, Freaknic moved East of Atlanta to Memorial Drive in DeKalb County,. By 1999, celebration of the festival had died down due to heightened police security.
In April 2010, Atlanta officials said "there are no permitted Freaknic-related events inside the city limits." Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also said that "he will be tough and even sue organizers of any Freaknic-related activities who violate city guidelines".
The 2019 Return of Freaknik
After a 20-year hiatus (last official Freaknik was in 1999), Luther Campbell helped spearhead the return of a revamped Freaknik in June 2019. The summer 2019 edition of Freaknik featured a line-up of major Hip-Hop and R&B artists performing live at Cellairis Amphitheatre and other events held throughout Atlanta, including a community service event.
- Williams Street Studios produced a 1-hour special spoof titled Freaknik: The Musical based on the popular festival. The show aired on Adult Swim on March 7, 2010.
- The event ‘Freaknik’ is mentioned in Beyoncé’s verse ( 3rd verse ) for the song ‘Top Off’ by DJ Khaled featuring Jay Z, Future and Beyonce
- Rapper Lil Kim mentioned 'Freaknik' on her 1996 hit single Crush on You.
- Freaknik was immortalized in Tom Wolfe's 1998 novel A Man in Full.
- Rapper Chuck Inglish imagined the festivities of the Freaknik coinciding with the 1996 Olympics in his song Freaknik '96, off of his album Everybody's Big Brother.
- Jermaine Dupri expresses his long for Freaknik to return on the remix to his song Welcome to Atlanta, saying "I don't know about you, but I miss the Freaknik, 'cause that's when my city used to be real sick".
- Tiffany Haddish mentions Freaknik in her book The Last Black Unicorn.
- In MF Doom's Song "Hoe Cakes" it is briefly mentioned.
- A season 6 episode of Sister Sister chronicled Tia and Tamera trip from Michigan to Atlanta for Freaknik with their college friends.
- A season 1 episode of True Life followed several college students during Freaknik in 1998.
To Get The Real Story of The True History of Freaknik: Go to OURFREAKNIK.COM where you will hear from the people who actually produced the Worlds Largest Black College Spring Break....
- 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 but Chrissy said it came back for a while until 2010.Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "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.
- "Should We Freak Out Over Freaknik? – IL Humanities". Prairie.org. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-03-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter
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- Kirby, Joseph A. (1997-04-18). "Atlanta Braces Itself For Annual 'Freaknik' Spring Break". Seattle Times Newspaper. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "Atlanta News / Georgia News Section | AJC". Ajc.com. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2008-06-07. Cite uses deprecated parameter
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- "Reed: Atlanta will not tolerate Freaknic-related trouble". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
- "Freaknik to return after a 20-year absence". WXIA.
- Ruggieri, Melissa. "FreakNik promoter explains the return of the Atlanta event". ajc.
- "The Freaknik Is Back... Sort Of | DrJays.com Live | Fashion. Music. Lifestyle". Live.drjays.com. 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "FreakNik" – via www.imdb.com.
- "True Life | TV Guide". TVGuide.com.