There is a folk etymology that somehow this word comes from sunburned necks which is provably incorrect so I have deleted it.
It is well-documented that this term comes from the labor unrest in the coal mining regions of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The word probably originated in the "Red Neck War" which took place in the summer of 1921 in West Virginia. In this event thousands of UMWA miners militarized and marched on Charleston. The miner army's only uniform was the red bandana they all wore around their necks. After this event it was common for Pinkerton agents, police and other authorities to refer to the miners as "red necks" and eventually the term became generalized to mean any rural worker.John Chamberlain 19:28, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
- Where is it "well-documented"? Ƿidsiþ 19:29, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
- The word "redneck" was widely used long before 1921. See the following citation from Wikipedia:
By 1900, "rednecks" was in common use to designate the political factions inside the Democratic Party comprising poor white farmers in the South. The same group was also often called the "wool hat boys" (for they opposed the rich men, who wore expensive silk hats). A newspaper notice in Mississippi in August 1891 called on rednecks to rally at the polls at the upcoming primary election:
By 1910, the political supporters of the Mississippi Democratic Party politician James K. Vardaman—chiefly poor white farmers—began to describe themselves proudly as "rednecks," even to the point of wearing red neckerchiefs to political rallies and picnics.