Freaknik was a staple of spring break in the 1990s and continues to be referenced in pop culture to this day. For those who are too young to have experienced it or for those who want to reminisce on the past, there’s a new documentary that will take you back to those days. Hulu announced today (April 6) that it will be bringing the festival’s story to the silver screen in Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told.
The documentary, as reported by Variety, will dive in to how the festival became so popular as well as its eventual demise by the turn of the millennium. The project’s synopsis states that the doc “recounts the rise and fall of a small Atlanta HBCU picnic that exploded into an influential street party and spotlighted ATL as a major cultural stage.” It also sets its sights on the future, posing the question, “Can the magic of Freaknik be brought back 40 years later?”
The legendary event started as a small picnic in Atlanta in the mid-1980s. It took place every year during the spring break season for local HBCUs, such as Morehouse College and Spelman College. As the ’90s wore on, the picnic had grown into a sizable festival with much more than just a picnic to offer attendees. The larger-than-life event is what’s most remembered today, as college students attended dance contests, concerts, parties, sporting events, rap sessions, and even job fairs.
By the late ’90s, the event began to draw criticism from the community. The Atlanta Committee for Black College Spring Break called for opposition to the event in 1998, as reported by The Associated Press. “We cannot support events that bring lewd activities, sexual assaults, violence against women, and public safety concerns, [as well as] firetrucks not being able to reach victims and ambulances not being able to reach hospitals in a timely manner,” committee Chairman George Hawthorne said at the time.
Still, the nostalgia lives on to this day as people everywhere throw their own mini versions of the festival in their own communities. 21 Savage even hosted his own Freaknik-themed birthday parties in 2021 and 2022.
Jermaine Dupri and Uncle Luke have a hands-on role in the new documentary as executive producers. Luke in particular is regarded by many as the godfather of Freaknik thanks to his music; he even planned a family-friendly version of the party in ATL in 2019.