‘Redneck’ Miners

Origin of the term “redneck”. [Audio]

Back during the early 20th century, the term redneck had a much different meaning than in modern times.

The United Mine Workers of America (UMW) and other unions appropriated both the term redneck and its literal manifestation. While on march, all of the miners wore the famous red bandanna in conjunction with this term; in order to build multiracial unions of white, black, and immigrant miners in the strike-ridden coalfields of northern and central Appalachia between 1912 and 1936.

The earliest printed uses of the word red-neck in a coal-mining context date from the 1912-1913 Paint and Cabin Creeks strike in southern West Virginia and from the 1913-1914 Trinidad District strike in southern Colorado.

UMW national organizers quite possibly transported “redneck” from one section of the country to the other. Then again, its popularizers may have been agents of the Baldwin–Felts Detective Agency, which supplied company guards and spies in both the West Virginia and the Colorado strikes.

Perhaps, the best explanation of redneck to mean “union man” is that the word refers to the red handkerchiefs that striking union coal miners in both southern West Virginia and southern Colorado often wore around their necks or arms as a part of their informal uniform

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Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm  Comments Off on ‘Redneck’ Miners  
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