What Is Freaknik? - The Sad Truth Behind The Festival Sunday September 11 2022, 11:32 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
What Is Freaknik? - The Sad Truth Behind The Festival

What Is/Was Freaknik In ATL?

Freaknik is a festival that actually made a comeback right before the pandemic started in 2019 after 20 years of hiatus.

But the new Freaknik attempts that are being made in ATL and across the country are nothing like the original festival that started in the 1980s for students that attended HBCUs in the area. The fact that things are different is for much better, but slightly for worst as well. Let me explain. 

The History Of Freaknik

Some people remember this festival filled with music, sports, and dancing as the best time for a young black person to be alive in the 1980s and the 1990s because of all the infections and vibrant energy that African Americans had to offer to those who attended historically black colleges.

It was first created by a club at Spelman College to be something like a huge spring break party.

Many people remember all of the crazy things that began happening in the 90s once the annual festivities really grew in popularity. Many college students will attest to the fact that things got wild once people who were not attending college were invited.

The freak in Freaknik was originally meant to refer to the word freaky as "unusual". But many began to take that name and run extremely in another direction with it to promote sexual promiscuity. 

The original HBCU kids actually found the inspiration from the song "Le Freak" by CHIC, and they took offense to the fact that the innocence behind the conception turned into something much darker over the years. 

The Dark Side Of Freaknik

As more people from all across the country and beyond began to flood into the streets of Atlanta to attend this party, the city and business owners really started to lose control of the situation and security at the festival.

Many young girls were there to party and dance as you would expect from a spring break type of party, but the guys, who were from any and everywhere of all ages, outnumbered these young women. 

With not enough security, too many men in comparison to women, and drugs and alcohol being in the mix, you can see where issues can easily come into play. Some women report having a wild but good time sexually, but many more women became victims of assault and rape while attending this festival. 

Police, elected officials, and the Atlanta Committee for Black College Spring Break decided in the late 90s that the festival should cease.

Committee chairman George Hawthorne stated, "We cannot support events that bring lewd activities, sexual assaults, violence against women, and public safety concerns—firetrucks not being able to reach victims, and ambulances not being able to reach hospitals in a timely manner."

The Revival Of Freaknik

Atlanta-based party promoters recruited big names in the urban music community, including Trina And Juvenile, to revive and promote a new event in ATL under the name Freaknik in 2019.

Unlike the early festival, this event focused on music only. The promoters also stressed that they wanted the event to remain respectable, empowering, and educational in contrast to the way things ended in the 90s. 

Around 17,000 people turned up for this event, which is very impressive especially compared to the other failed revivals of Freaknik that were attempted within the last 20 years. But it definitely pales when you compare that number to the 300,000 who attended the event in the year 1990!

It seems like a much more ideal number when you realize that the first event held in April 1982 only had around 150 people. 

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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!

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