A Texas Observer article about an annual event in Athens, Texas, known as the Redneck Games turned to James C. Cobb, B. Phinizy Spalding Distinguished Professor of history, for a history of the word redneck.
“It used to be America’s most respectable ethnic slur. You could say anything about Southern whites, and it was resented only by Southern whites. It’s gone through this metamorphosis to where it’s become more acceptable for Southern whites to call themselves rednecks. It’s an aspect of the growing assimilation of the South into the rest of the country and the greater confidence of the Southern white male,” Cobb said.
“In a way, the rednecks are the hippies of the 1990s and early 21st century, sort of the dropouts from conventional society without a lot of the ideological trappings,” he also said.