HISTORY OF THE MUCK
FLOOD OF 1928
If we could rewind time to six months prior to the largest storm to ever hit the glades, we could bring you right into the lobby of a local hotel where the city of Belle Glade was given its name. The more colorful version of the story behind the naming of the glades largest city suggest that a blackboard was placed in the middle of this lobby so locals could write their suggestions on the board. The suggestions receiving the most votes would be the deciding factor on what the new name of the glades largest town would be called. After tallying the votes, it was clear that the town should be called Belle Glade since that settlement was known as
“the belle of the glades”.
During that very year in the newly named town only six months later, the city of “Belle Glade” and the surrounding community including Pahokee, South Bay & Clewiston was hit with one of the largest hurricanes in the history of the United States. The Flood of 1928 took an outstanding number of lives from a single storm. This hurricane would lead to the flood waters of lake Okeechobee spilling over and taking over 2,500 lives in the glades community. To this day the memory of those lost still survive in the minds and hearts of locals with memorials around town reminding of the devastation of 1928.
Her Soil is Her Fortune
After the abolition of slavery in the United States migrant workers emerged as a system of agricultural labor in the South. With fickle harvests and lopsided contracts migratory workers were going wherever crops were being grown as the seasons changed. Living conditions were dismal and by the late 1930s, there were about 300,000 migrant workers roaming the country in search of employment which led many of them to Florida and the glades region.
Black migrants including Jamaicans and Mexicans were particularly hard-pressed to find work. Migrant workers had little government protection and were isolated from the communities they traveled through. Most of the new deal legislation that benefited industrial workers did little for itinerant farmers. One government agency that did help was the Farm Security Administration. Initially called the Resettlement Administration, the FSA set up camps for workers with improved amenities and education for families, offering a modicum of comfort in a hard, dusty life around the glades.
With the dark days of the sixties looming over the country embracing the deaths of many civil rights advocates in the black community like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and many others that had been gun downed or slain during the past decade. Desegregation efforts in 1971 were made to combat racism and try to bring uniformity and peace to black and white communities by combining schools. Two local schools Lake Shore Middle-Senior High and Belle Glade High of the muck were prime targets for desegregation and formulated into becoming one school now known as Glades Central High School.
The racial tension of combining the two schools would be overshadowed only by the outstanding dominance of the newly formed Glades Central athletic program. Back to Back state titles in football would come in short order after the school’s formation. This success was instrumental in helping the community to take steps forward by allowing African Americans players to compete alongside whites for state championships, which was not allowed to the black schools prior to this period. The formulation of Glades Central and influx of African American athletes laid the foundation for the future of NFL athletes to come out of this area.
Outside of being labeled the Aids capital of the world and the creation of many prisons, the 80's was transformation of the glades when it comes to all things football. The foundation of what Muck City football is today. A period where schools where created, blacks could participate in playoff championships, and where The Muck began its high school football dominance. The 80’s across the country was marked by the dawn of the new age of the American dream for African Americans and The Muck minorities took full advantage. This opportunity for the first time was attainable by all minorities. Michael Jordan was the best athlete, Eddie Murphy was the most sought out actor, Michael Jackson was the world’s greatest entertainer, the list of African American in the lime light continued to grow by the day.
Another landscaping change was the manifestation of the collegiate football television empire. Programs begin to swing their attention to the bigger, faster, stronger athlete. And The Muck became the epicenter of what would become mainstream college football.
THE GOLDEN AGE
From the start of the early 90’s till the mid 2000’s Muck City hit the height of football prominence to an era which now is referred to as the Golden Age. An extensive list of young athletes from The Muck would go on to dominate the landscape of high school, college, & professional football during this time.
This Era would include multiple High School State titles, Collegiate National Championships, Heisman Trophy finalist, Super Bowl Champions, and even a Super Bowl MVP. When it came to football across America there was not a more prominent roll in the success of main teams and championships that had direct correlation with an athlete out of The Muck.
Over the past decade there have been many trying times for the glades community. Most of the despair has cultivated around the lack of jobs in the area. Once known as the largest sugar producing areas in the country, the muck would quickly become a leader in unemployment. Two of the three largest employers in the muck closed or dramatically cut its workforce which lead to a huge lack of employment inside the muck community. In addition to packing & sugar mills closing shop, in 2011 the Glades Correctional facility closed completely. These closings literally put the working community on life support. The lack of work compiled with various social and political disparages has led to a stagnation of growth and development in this once vibrant community.
Restoring the roots of her soil. Throughout history The Muck has always been known for it's hard working and strong minded people. It is now that these same people have risen up to give back to their community and help move in a positive direction. With change comes difficulties and push back, but with an empowering mindset and work ethic common to this area. It is easy to see how coming together will leave a lasting impression and help to revitalize such a storied community!