‘Freaknik’ Documentary Invites Viewers to Black College Spring Break

It’s an accepted spring break axiom that you can retake a class but you can’t relive a party. Until now, that’s been true of Freaknik, the annual bass-rattling spring break street party that drew hundreds of thousands of Black college students to Atlanta throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Traffic crawled. Music blared. Booties were shaken.

“It’s a throwback time of nostalgia when we weren’t all on our phone or always trying to take a selfie,” said P. Frank Williams, the director of “Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told,” a documentary that aims to immerse viewers in the celebration when it premieres on Thursday on Hulu. “We were just enjoying the moment. It was about these young Black people finding freedom in a world that really didn’t welcome them, in a city that is one of the Blackest places on the planet.”

Over time, Freaknik exploded from its roots as a local event organized by students at the Atlanta University Center into a nexus for Black college students from across the country. “They said it was Freaknik, and I just thought that I wanted to bring the freak into the ’nik and then it went from zero to 100 real fast,” said Luther Campbell, the rapper known as Uncle Luke, who is an executive producer of the film.

Police and elected officials ended Freaknik after 1999 amid public safety concerns and reports of sexual assault. Other cities in recent years have sought to restrict Black spring breakers through curfews, bag checks and traffic rerouting. Miami Beach rolled out a social media campaign this year to discourage visitors.

To tell the story of a party that became legendary before social media, “Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told” highlights several of the era’s artifacts that were essential to partygoers’ experience. We spoke with the makers of the film about five of them.


Camcorders were a fixture at Freaknik and a source of material for the documentary.Credit…Rich Mahan/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Associated Press
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