The Etymology of “Picnic”

Several LATTC BFSA meetings ago, some members were concerned about using the term, “picnic” in describing our Juneteenth celebration.  Etymologists dismiss the claim that the word picnic derived from events in which blacks were lynched, and online sources like Snopes and Urban Legends support those claims.

However, the response from Dr. David Pilgrim, sociology professor and curator of Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, describes a different perspective.  He said that although “etymologists smugly dismiss the claim” that picnic began with the lynchings of black Americans, there is some truth in it, “as the lynchings of blacks often occurred in picnic-like settings.”  Read the whole response at and visit their archives for more interesting readings.

So, should we or should we not use the term?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Elton Robinson says:

    The impact that each of these awesome men had is only one piece of which we as black people are capable.


    1. Dorothy Sherman Smith says:

      For me today, the term picnic is not favorable. Maybe tomorrow I will feel differently.


  2. Ayesha says:

    I’m not sure if we should use the word, but I do think that there are many people who have no idea what the dialogue is all about. So it’s important for us to keep talking and sharing.


  3. The further BACK we explore for the Truths, the more clearly we will be able to implement W.E.B. duBois challenge on teaching our young to THINK for themselves. As you look about you, how do You think We are DOING?


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