How a Medium Article Prompted Me to Write My Memoir Freaknik Lawyer

H. Michael Harvey, JD
6 min readApr 28, 2019
Photo by Neel on Unsplash

It has taken me 24 years to embrace the nickname “Freaknik Lawyer.” In the last decade of the 20th century, the term “Freaknik” held negative connotations for many in the Atlanta community.

No reputable professional person wanted to be associated with the Black College Spring Break Festival which rapidly became known as Freaknik. Sadly, the negative rap Freaknik received two decades ago lingers.

Recently, I remarked to a neighbor that I was working on my memoir. She was excited to learn about my new project, but when I told her the title of my book, it conjured up the negative memories of crowded streets, scantily clad ladies and the smell of burnt rope in the air.

“Oh no,” she exclaimed. “I was working at Morehouse College when Freaknik was popular. The people were everywhere; I’m sure glad they don’t come to Atlanta anymore.”

For two decades Atlanta could count on a steady stream of Black college students flocking to the streets of Atlanta; just as Californians have come to expect Monarch Butterflies who migrate from their winter home in Mexico for sunny California in the spring of the year. The larvae are peculiar. They will only eat milkweed, a plant not found in Mexico, but California.

Black college students had a profound need to be around other Black people in the city; many of them thought Atlanta was the Black Mecca.

Atlanta for young Black college students held out the opportunity for freedom to pursue the American dream without any racial undertones. Black college students could not find other Black people on the beaches of Florida, so they flocked to the Black Mecca just as the snowbirds of Florida were beginning their migratory pattern back to their northern meccas.

Middle-class Negroes in Atlanta hated to see the third weekend in April come. They were ashamed of the behavior of Black college kids in the streets of Atlanta and whispered under their breath about the behavior of these students. Few considered the positive vibe engendered among the students as they frolicked for a few days before getting back to the grind that college can be for students.

H. Michael Harvey, JD

Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at