A Synopsis of Freaknik Lawyer

H. Michael Harvey
May 28, 2019 · 3 min read
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Photo by Andre Ouellet on Unsplash

This memoir connects the dots from Plessy to Brown to Obama and the quest of millennials to throw off the shackles of the Curse of Plessy and the unkept Promise of Brown.

Freaknik is not quite as freaky as it sounds. Certainly, Freaknik Lawyer is not about a lawyer getting his freak on when the lights go off.

In the last two decades of the 20th century, “Freaknik” was a spring break gathering of Black college students. Rather than going to the beaches and dancing in the streets of Florida like white college students — getting their parallel hedonist spring freak on — Black students clogged the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, their Black Mecca.

In 1995, one year before Atlanta was set to host the Centennial Olympic Games, Bill Campbell, the Black mayor of Atlanta, under pressure from white business leaders, decided to toss Black college students in jail to discourage them from partying in the Chocolate City during the third weekend in April.

All hell broke loose!

Atlanta became an armed camp, the likes of which had not existed since 1864 when General William T. Sherman cordoned off the city sending civilian Atlantans either to the north or south of the city and not allowing anyone to enter Atlanta.

Mayor Campbell, an elementary school integrator from North Carolina, set up concrete blocks to seal off entry into the city and had the Governor of Georgia dispatch State Troopers to stand sentry over these concrete barriers. Coincidentally, in 1864, Sherman used Black troops to seal off Atlanta to prevent whites he had kicked out from returning to the city.

Out of this chaos, a skinny, quiet, pro-Black justice, politically astute, behind the scenes leader, savvy political thinker, mounted a black horse of Justice to protect the constitutional rights of the students from some bad hombres — the mayor, the governor and the police powers of the state, vowing free legal representation to any student arrested on minor city ordinance violations.

This small-time personal injury lawyer came out of a cloud of dust, rises his steed on its hind legs, and yelling “High Ho Ebony, away,” drew the ire of the white community and retribution from the Black mayor.

Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir On the Craft of Resistance, is a tale of a minor prophet in an age of major prophesy from Du Bois, Garvey, X, King, Hamer, Davis, Ali, Jackson, Obama, and Bland, whose courage and consistency has led him to set the record straight in ways even Tom Wolfe could not do in A Man in Full.

Freaknik Lawyer is a plea for equality and an inspiration for anyone who has ever resisted or who may resist injustice and inequality in the future.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.

The Startup

H. Michael Harvey

Written by

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

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

H. Michael Harvey

Written by

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

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

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