Mar 26, 2024 - News

Freaknik founders want us to look forward, not back

Freaknik founders James “Tony” Anthony Towns Sr., Monique Tolliver-Logan, Amadi Boone, Sharon Toomer and Emma Horton. Photo: Courtesy of Monique Tolliver.

Freaknik founders James "Tony" Anthony Towns Sr., Monique Tolliver-Logan, Amadi Boone, Sharon Toomer and Emma Horton. Photo: Courtesy of Monique Tolliver

Freaknik's founders say folks should stop trying to revive Atlanta's culturally revolutionary event of the '90s, because it's time for the culture to initiate a new safe space for Black people.

The big picture: Monique Tolliver-Logan, James "Tony" Anthony Towns Sr., and Amadi Darryl Boone tell Axios that Hulu's new documentary, "Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told," accurately shows its origins as a safe space for historically Black college students.

  • They said the film showed Freaknik's commercialization after "students lost control" of the annual event.

"Freaknik" was originally a picnic planned by the D.C. Metro Club, an Atlanta University Center group for students from Washington, D.C.

  • Tolliver-Logan said they wanted to bring D.C. culture to the AUC, which included go-go music and dances like "the Freak."
  • She said the music and dancing "wasn't freaky" or scandalous back then.
An image of Atlanta college students during the first Freaknik in 1982.
Atlanta college students setting up the first Freaknik in 1982. Photo: Courtesy of Monique Tolliver-Logan

That gathering which started with 50 students in Piedmont Park, —eventually grew into a citywide traffic-blocking party with more than 200,000 people.

  • Boone said Freaknik "evolved from a D.C. event into an Atlanta event" once the local Black music industry started to use it to promote artists like Outkast.
  • Tolliver-Logan said they inadvertently became "the original influencers."

The three founders said they're glad Freaknik helped Black artists blossom, but they're "saddened" by what it turned into.

  • "No one wants to be around any criminal activity and abuse of women," Towns said about public safety concerns and reported sexual assaults at later iterations of the festival.

What's next: The founders created the D.C. Metro Club Reunited group to host annual cookouts with Freaknik's original participants.

  • Freaknik isn't coming back. But they want young people to create the next event for themselves.
  • "We are never going to be short on creativity to create new things," Boone said. "Let's all leave a legacy."
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