The Phenomenon Of Freaknik

Freaknik made springtime in Atlanta unforgettable during the mid-90s

By WABE 90.1 FM

Article and radio reporting by Lauren Booker, WABE

Freaknik In 1997 by AJC Staff Photo / Jean ShifrinWABE 90.1 FM

A Look At The Phenomenon Of Freaknik As An Organizer Tries To Revive It

The festival in Atlanta began in 1982 as a picnic for local college students. It evolved into a meeting ground for people around the nation. In 2019, the event came back to Atlanta.

Store Affected By Freaknik (1995) by AP Photo / Andrew InnerarityWABE 90.1 FM

This isn’t the first time an event by the name of Freaknik has been thrown in Atlanta since the official festival ended infamously by 1999, following crime and complaints around the event.

Freaknik Attendees In 1997 (1997) by AJC Staff Photo / Jean ShifrinWABE 90.1 FM

Members of the Washington D.C. Metro Club planned the first event during a meeting at Spelman College. In 1982, it was held in Piedmont Park.

It's name was inspired by a popular Rick James song.

Freaknik In 1997 by AJC Staff Photo / Jean ShifrinWABE 90.1 FM

In the following years, Freaknik evolved and attracted students from around the U.S., according to event founder Sharon Toomer. She credits the Atlanta University Center for the increase.

Freaknik in 1996 (1996) by Courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionWABE 90.1 FM

Freaknik gained national attention with mentions in Spike Lee’s 1988 film “School Daze” and in Luther Campbell’s “Work It Out” music video in 1993. The fame brought thousands to the city and gridlock.

Freaknik On MLK Blvd. (1994) by Marlene Karas; Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photographic Archives. Special Collctions And Archives, Georgia State University LibraryWABE 90.1 FM

Carlos Neal, an Atlanta-based party promoter with After 9 Partners, who brought the event back to Atlanta in 2019, said that he believes now is the prime time for the festival.

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