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Whatever happened to ‘Freaknik’?


Story behind popular college festival

The topic of discussion is Freaknik. Now, without prior knowledge, you would assume it's something that's not appropriate for public viewing and should be tucked away in the darkest places of the earth, never to be seen, but what if I told you it was singularly one of the greatest things to grace the Black community as a collective in the '80s and '90s. 

The history behind this block party/festival all started in 1983 as a group of college kids attending HBCUs in Atlanta held a picnic in the public park during spring break as they couldn't afford to go home or on a trip like their peers. The college kids were part of the D.C. Metro Club, composed of students from Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. 

" It was a unique event at the time, and while creating the film, I was able to learn the origin story and the original intent of Freaknik and was amazed on the journey it went on until the end." Deshawn Plair, supervising producer on the film 'Freaknik The Wildest Party Never Told' said as she explained how the origin and how most people remember the event differ. "It was a unique process when diving into the backstory and learning the actual history of this prominent event in Black culture, both the highlights and the lowlights."

The documentary film covers over a decade of history within the event from its inception in 1983 to its demise in 1999, including the inclusion of the entertainment and music industry, to the 1996 Olympics that was hosted in Atlanta, winning the bid over Athens, Greece which was a huge moment not only for America but for the Black communities in Atlanta. 

Over the years, the event grew from word of mouth and nothing more, but in 1988, when Spelman College president Johnnetta B. Cole banned the DC Metro Club from involvement with Freaknik for school liability reasons, the club turned to local promoters to spread the news of the event. This tactic resulted in the event growing from 15,000 guests in five years to over 250,000 in the next five years. As the event grew and more people became involved, it went from a networking event and celebrating Black joy to the complete opposite.