It’s been over 20 years since Atlanta braced for its last Freaknik, however, on June 22, the event makes its return to the city as an all-day festival and concert to an almost sold out crowd at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood.

“We want everyone to know it’s not the old Atlanta Freaknik,” said publicist Tara Thomas to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“When people think Freaknik, they think party and chaos. That’s not what we want to do. We want it to be a party, but an all-inclusive one.”

With Luther “Uncle Luke” headling the festivities, many other artists from 1900s have joined in to take the stage, such as Playa Poncho, Raheem the Dream, Kilo Ali, Pastor Troy, and Lil Scrappy are also returning to the Freaknik stage along with DaBrat, Bun B (UGK), Adina Howard, The East Side Boyz (of Lil John and the East Side Boyz) and various others completing the lineup.

Unofficially known as the “Black Spring Break,” for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Freaknik took the place of destinations like Daytona Beach for most of these institution’s students.

At its height, Freaknik reportedly commanded an attendance of over 200,000 young Black people converging on the city.

Students and other patrons of the event generated an estimated $20 million to the city of Atlanta back in 1994. And in 1995, it was reported that Atlanta police officers had written enough tickets to give each member of the force a ten percent raise for a year.

During that time, chants of “my freaks, my freaks” rang out in the streets to welcome everyone. Images of massive traffic jams, partying in the streets, nudity, and rowdy behavior were shown as representations of Freaknik festivities.

The Atlanta Police Department reported a staggering amount of physical arrests, vandalism, traffic violations, and rapes during the weekend.

In a 1995 Atlanta Voice Newspaper article, Atlanta Police Chief Beverly Harvard suggested that women should not come to Freaknik. She even blamed the women for condoning and participating in behaviors that make it dangerous for women to participate in Freaknik.

With the 1996 Olympic games on its way to Atlanta, Mayor Bill Campbell took it upon himself to clean up the image of the city, which included getting Freaknik in check.

While he tried to find a middle ground to keep the festivities, Atlanta’s business community pressured him to clampdown on Freaknik. Instead, he attempted to localize it.

Campbell suggested renaming Freaknik to “Spring Jam 97” and introduce a list of activities to corral revelers.

Unfortunately, the idea of ticket fees for events was introduced, which seemed to affect attendance and “Spring Jam 97” didn’t attract the crowds that were expected.

Additionally, the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympics drove partygoers away from Atlanta for a time.

Between the park bombing and the City’s attempt to change Freaknik, the event began to decline. Now people are waiting to see if the new Freaknik will be anything like the old one, positively or negatively.

However, many are looking forward to the revival of Freaknik, even though they realize that it won’t be the same as the 90s free-for-all that once took play.

Either way, Freaknik is back so Atlanta has no choice but to get ready to party.

In addition to the concert at Lakewood, after parties and many other events are planned throughout the city for Freaknikers in parks, restaurants, and clubs. Links to these events are available on the Freaknik 2019 Facebook page.

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(Photo: Peter DeMoore/Wikicommons)

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