In 1983, a few Morehouse College students organized a small picnic with others from the Atlanta University Center on spring break.
Over the next decade, the humble gathering that started at Piedmont Park swelled into a massive, rambunctious party that lured hundreds of thousands of people to Atlanta to dance, drink, play basketball, watch films, and even attend job fairs.
It was called Freaknik.
The colossal spring festival received rave reviews from many, but also earned notoriety for being disruptive bacchanalia as it evolved in the 1990s.
By 1999, a crackdown by police and local politicians had forced the once-explosive event to shrink back down to near obscurity.
And in 2010, then-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed banned all things Freaknik-related.
Freaknik undoubtedly helped shape Atlanta’s culture today, and its memory lives on in music, television, and books—even in Tom Wolfe’s novel A Man in Full.
But there’s one thing the mammoth celebration of black culture was never meant to be: family-friendly.
Nevertheless, family-friendly Freaknik 2.0 is in the works, and many people aren’t sure how to feel about it.
“We want everyone to know it’s not the old Atlanta Freaknik,” Tara Thomas, a publicist for the event, told 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.”
The June 22 event will be a concert produced by Atlanta-based After 9 Parters and held at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood.
Tickets ranging from $46 to more than $200 will get access to performances by the likes of Uncle Luke, Project Pat, Twista, and Kilo Ali.
A writer for The Root, an online publication focused on black culture and social issues, called the family-friendly Freaknik “the ultimate oxymoron.”
“Sometimes a name change is in order,” wrote Dara Sharif.
Organizers are expected to meet with Atlanta police in advance of the event to ensure everyone’s on the same page, according to the AJC.