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During the times of slavery and even sometimes after that the word picnic was referred to as "pick a N*****". White people (not all) would have gatherings or "picnics" where they would pick random African American males and lynch them for their entertainment. While their families sometimes had to watch. They would usually only hang males because they knew African American men would lay down their lives to protect their families and as long as they were alive whites couldn't have total power over African Americans. Whites, (not all) where also fearful of strong black men and did everything they could to try and keep them beneath them that was the purpose of the lynching.

Note: Actually, all the research I've performed says that the word picnic is derived from the French word piquenique, which you can look up on this website - or just Google it. Unfortunately (and unimaginably) there were those that often celebrated lynchings by having a simultaneous event, much like a picnic. Although heinous, it does not mean that the word picnic derived from these horrific events.If someone has documented proof of the use of this word being associated with lynchings, please add to this answer. It would help provide validity to the original answer, since it is currently contradicted by much of the information available on the internet.

ANSWERI call BS on the first answer--cite your sources.
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โˆ™ 2010-06-18 16:39:55
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Q: How was the word picnic use in slavery?
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The urban legend picnic is short for "pick a N-word" for a lynching. The whites would turn these "picnics" into family gatherings as they ate, played with there kids,& posed for pictures as a black man/woman swung lifelessly from a tree. However, there is no evidence that this is the real origin of the term.

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We shall picnic in the park on Sunday.

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Fred had a lot of fun at the school picnic.

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We were planning for a picnic, but the dark clouds seemed like a bad omen.

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"Finding an ant in the potato salad was an inauspicious beginning to the picnic." As in, considering how this picnic's beginning, it doesn't seem like it's going to go very well.

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