Flashback: Freaknik

Posted: April 8, 2008 in Uncategorized

I was reminded of the days of Freaknik after reading about how the Black College Reunion down in Daytona, FL has been on the decline for the past few years. You can read all about it here:

Host of factors deflates BCR

In the meantime, here are some random articles I was able to find regarding Freaknik.

=====

Friday, May 15, 1998

End of Freaknik

Atlanta Business Chronicle

Recognizing at last that Freaknik is not what Atlanta needs, the committee appointed by the mayor to oversee Black College Spring Break is saying: “No more.”

That decision is long overdue; Atlanta is no Daytona Beach or Fort Lauderdale, and doesn’t want to be. But it took several years of quiet prodding within the African-American community to reach that consensus.

For the first few years, Freaknik was a polarizing issue between African-Americans and whites. But in the past two years, the African-American community itself has become divided over the benefits of the weekend.

Committee members recognized Freaknik participants’ behavior has deteriorated over the past few years. With assaults against women rising and lewd conduct becoming the norm, it’s time for Atlanta to pull in the welcome mat. (source)

======

Friday, February 26, 1999

A quieter Freaknik? Signs point to a subdued event

Atlanta Business Chronicle – by Marcy Lamm Staff Writer [link]

======

Freaknik too lewd, crude for Atlanta?

By Russ Bynum

Associated Press

1998

ATLANTA – The party may be over for Freaknik, Atlanta’s annual spring bash for black college students.

Prompted by TV footage of gangs of men groping women, the city’s welcoming committee for the sprawling street party is now asking Mayor Bill Campbell to withdraw his support.

“When individuals say they want to come to Freaknik, they come with a mentality that it is an open season on women,” said George Hawthorne, who headed the welcoming committee. “Their main intent is to come for some lewd and sexual experience.”

Aside from free-for-all fondling, Freaknik has earned a reputation for spawning massive traffic jams and sporadic looting. Many local businesses are forced to close their doors during the rite of spring, which took place April 17-19 this year.

Campbell, who is black, tried to discourage the event until criticism from black leaders prompted him to form a welcoming committee in 1996. The city has since sponsored concerts and other events to help control the unruly cruising party.

Hawthorne, who is also black, said Wednesday that the sexual antics during this year’s Freaknik warrant the city withdrawing its endorsement.

Reports aired last week on WSB-TV showed several women being chased by men grabbing their buttocks. The footage showed one woman flailing her arms wildly to fight off a mob, and another woman fighting to get away from men who lifted her dress as she was posing for a photograph.

And MTV aired its own hour-long show on Freaknik Tuesday, showing men disrobing and women being fondled as they danced among mobs of men.

Hawthorne, who helped monitor the crowds during Freaknik, said he personally pulled a woman from a swarm of 20 to 30 men who were trying to strip her.

“She had her underwear around her knees and her dress was up over her head,” Hawthorne said. “If it had not been for me intervening … she would have potentially been raped in broad daylight.”

Yet some black college students say Freaknik flirting is no more crude or dangerous than the antics of white students who go to the beach for spring break. (more…)

=====

As one who lived in Atlanta during the height of Freaknik, here are just a few things I remember:

–The traffic on 285: Somehow, I had gotten a heads-up at work that I needed to jet ASAP if I wanted to get home at a decent hour. Shure enough, I got home just hours before Atlanta police made the dumb decision to close off every exit in an attempt to contain Freaknik traffic. The move pissed off the locals who were just trying to get home because oftentimes while sitting in traffic, they were treated to impromptu strip shows and sex acts on top of cars on the freeway.

–Downtown Atlanta felt surreal: With most of the main streets in downtown Atlanta shut down to driving traffic, virtually every street corner and patch of grass became a impromptu party where pretty much the same mess I mentioned on 285 was taking place. The police were there, but you knew there was not much they could do because of the size of the crowds. I also remember some of the large churches in the area like World Changers sending many of their folks to help patrol the streets.

–And finally the one thing that got me angry the most was when city officials finally started getting serious about enforcing some kind of curfew on the streets, those officials (who were mostly Black) were accused of being too hard on these college students. Police officers (who were also mostly Black) got the same rap (and when the police wasn’t there, they were accused of not doing their job–damned if you do,…you know the rest). So for a while, the crap continued while folks were quick to point out that White students were guilty of the same shenanigans on their spring break celebrations. Eventually, more and more Blacks from the local community saw what this ridiculous stalemate was doing for the reputation of the city, so they began to pressure city officials do something. Finally, the city decided to incorporate the job fair at the Georgia World Congress Center (I believe that was the location). But by that time, the folks who still wanted to act the fool moved the party down to Florida for the next several years.

From what I have noticed, it appears that many of our Black College spring break celebrations have moved away from the days of Freaknik. I say, “good riddance”.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s