Atlanta. Home of the 1996 Olympics, Coca-Cola, Home Depot and nearly one of the first major cities to see Black people lose their vice on governmental power, is about to welcome back one of the finest indicators of the cultural vitality of Black America. Freaknic. Yes. Freaknic is back, or Black Spring Break, returns to the fertile grounds of Atlanta, the resurrection of perhaps the ultimate statement of Black partying and puerile fun the nation will see in 2010:
Freaknik was an annual spring break meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, primarily of students from historically black colleges and universities. Begun in 1982 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. Atlantans’ reception of the festival was mixed. In its heyday, the fest attracted upwards of 250,000 revelers to the city. Many residents attended and enjoyed Freaknik, and others complained about traffic congestion, lewd public behavior, open urination, noise, and trash due to street parties. City leaders eventually took measures to curtail Freaknik’s accessibility, and hence its popularity. As a result, Freaknik moved to Memorial Drive in DeKalb County, then to Daytona Beach, Florida. By 1999, celebration of the festival had died down due to heightened police security.
‘Flash Mobs’ might be occurring in Kansas City and Philadelphia, but the weekend of April 16-18 offers the return of Freaknic to Atlanta, and a glimpse at arguably the wildest party in the nation. The return of Freaknic will be an event for the ages, as the restoration of a source of pride for Black people is grounds for fervent celebration considering that in the waning days of the last millennium, marauding Black Spring Breakers had the red carpet moved from under their feet with Freaknic’s sad demise and cancellation.
Here, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution offers past Freaknic participants a chance to ruminate on the glories of days long past. The best comment happens to be one SBPDL witnessed when he was but of middle-school going to watch an Atlanta Braves game with his father and a friend:
By Chris April 14, 2008 12:52 PM | Link to this I remember Freaknik, everybody got out of town before hand, if not, you locked your doors and stayed inside. Too much looting, sex, and danger to venture outside. Thank God it’s gone!
The smell of cannabis is the norm during Freaknic, almost as ubiquitous as the uniformed police-officer. Black revelers adjourn briefly from the difficult courses taught at Historically Black Colleges and University’s (HBCUs) and party like a rock star amid the glistening skyscrapers of Atlanta, all while businesses shutter doors to stave off the threat of robberies. It tells you something when the Black power culture of Atlanta in the 1990s deemed Freaknic counterproductive and a nuisance, thus working assiduously to deny Black Spring Breakers a city to party in. Black people should have taken this as the ultimate affront, considering Atlanta has long been noted as the Black Mecca of America (a claim one recent study find fraudulent). Why would the Black-power base governing Atlanta find the influx of Black college students an unwanted admixture to the cities already combustible racial mix? White people go on Spring Break to cities that dot the Florida gulf coast and are welcomed, thanks to significant boost in economic activity they bring during a fiscal quarter that needs augmenting. Engaging in debauchery is a time-honored tradition of the college spring breaker. Kegs, girls, fun and a copious amount of sun offer a week-retreat from the indignity of studying long hours to eventual acquire certification to perform work that will be eventually outsourced to India or China anyways. The difference between Freaknic and traditional spring breaks is that the latter is welcomed with open arms, knowing the economic impact will outweigh any problems that surface during drunken binges. The former… well, it was canceled for a reason. Now, it is being brought back by hook or by crook:
Barcelo said the event is going to be an alcohol-free picnic for college kids to socialize. But he’s also working with clubs to help host nighttime events that weekend as well. “I want to make it clear, I’ve been working with people … I want to make this a legitimate thing for the city,” said Barcelo, an event promoter and manager of small businesses and restaurants in the city. Atlanta Chamber of Commerce officials declined to comment Friday, referring an AJC reporter to the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. No one from the ACVB was available for comment Friday afternoon. Freaknik started in 1983 as a small picnic for college students who could not afford to go home during spring break. By the mid-1990s, more than 200,000 people, including many students from black colleges and universities from all over the country, were flocking to Atlanta. The massive street party caused traffic gridlock and was marred by incidents of women being taunted and groped. Freaknik ended in 1999 after the city and police imposed major restrictions. The AJC is attempting to contact the city for comment. Meanwhile, Barcelo said the event is going to happen “with or without the city.” As for the person behind the other website, Barcelo said he’s willing to work with him “if he goes through the proper channels.” “He has drive, I respect that,” Barcelo said. “But I haven’t slept in three days. I’m completely wide-open on No-Doz and Starbucks.
Freaknic 2010 will not be a party for Black college students of schools trying desperately to keep accredited, sans alcohol. No, the only non-alcoholic party SBPDL went to in college was at Georgia Tech and happened to be thrown by Mormon’s. Black people – who don’t like foreign beer – will imbibe abundantly and more than likely engage in similar behavior that caused Freaknic to get shutdown back in 1999. ‘Flash Mob’ or not, we at Stuff Black People Don’t Like believe the return of Freaknic will provide more Remember, no Black Block Party has ever gone off swimmingly. Not even one over Easter. That is all Freaknic has ever been, a city wide block party that once gave Atlanta a permanent Black-eye in the view of white people. Strange that a correlation would exist between the demise of Freaknic and the rise of the white population in the city:
Atlanta is the thirty-third largest city in the United States, with an estimated population of 537,958 in 2008, an increase by 28 percent from the 2000 census. Atlanta has seen dramatic demographic increase in its white population over the past several decades. According to the Brookings Institution, the proportion of whites in Atlanta’s population grew faster between 2000 and 2006 than that of any other U.S. city. Only Washington, D.C. experienced a comparable increase in the white population share during the 2000-2006 time periods. Atlanta went from being 51.3 percent black in 1970 to 67.1 percent black in 1990 to 61.4 percent black in 2000 to 55.8 percent black in 2008.
Freaknic. Just the word conjures up exotic, forbidden images of carnal delight. Having witnessed Freaknic in the past during its waning days as festivity of Blackness, SBPDL makes this bold prediction about Atlanta and the upcoming weekend of Freaknic. Atlanta is the gayest city in America, a recent title usurped from San Francisco. Black people aren’t a fan of Gay Marriage, and worse, they don’t like cooperating with the police. Shootings at Black night clubs in Atlanta are a nightly occurrence. Now, imagine the addition of 150,000+ Black people to the mix. The Bling Mob is coming to Atlanta in a Flash, with the return of Freaknic. SBPDL predicts… chaos, just like one member of the Atlanta City Council does:
The website says the event will be held April 16-18 in Washington Park. The city says no permits have been issued for any public events in the park for those dates.City Councilman Kwanza Hall tells WSB he doesn’t think there’s time.”I think it’s almost probably too late to try to pull something off because of the time frame of the applications that are due,” said Hall.”That move to try to go to black college spring break or weekend – it was a valiant attempt, but it needed a little bit more structure,” said Hall.With the economic times we’re in, we should still consider all options.”I thinks it’s very challenging right now with all the public safety concerns that we’ve had, if any group were to bring something back that looks anywhere near like we saw in the last few years of Freaknik’s existence,” said Hall.”My colleagues as well as myself and the mayor would not be hasty to support an initiative without very, very serious scrutiny,” said Hall. Freaknik dates back to 1983 when it was a small picnic for college students who could not afford to go home during spring break.However, the event grew larger each year with tens of thousands of students descending on the city, cruising and causing major gridlock on highways and surface streets.
All you can do is laugh. One thing is for sure: Georgia Tech students better watch out.
Hilarious Freaknic video is found here.