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Audio Recording Simplice Mabiala Kuelo interview conducted by John W. McKerley, 2016-12-12.

Audio recording of interview with Simplice Mabiala Kuelo.
Audio recording of interview with Simplice Mabiala Kuelo.

About this Item

Title

  • Simplice Mabiala Kuelo interview conducted by John W. McKerley, 2016-12-12.

Summary

  • Mabiala Kuelo was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) in 1985. His family were from Bas-Congo (now Kongo Central) province. His father worked in "label production," designing and producing textiles, and his mother worked at home. Both sides of his family had historical ties to land ownership and traditional leadership in the Bas-Congo region. He describes his family as members of the aspiring middle class in a country divided between rich and poor. This relatively security was upended by his father's early death, but the family was able to sufficiently recover to send Kuelo to the University of Kinshasa, where he studied "family law." As a university student, Mabiala Kuelo had his first political and organizing experiences. Early in his university career, he engineered the election of a fellow student as the "head of promotion" (similar to the president of university class). This experience gave him the confidence to approach a neighbor, who was then an advisor to the prime minister, to run for a seat in Congo's lower house of parliament. Still a student, he developed an organizing "project" with which he convinced the neighbor to run and to take him (MK) on as a campaign manager. During this period, Kuelo also applied for a US Diversity Visa "by accident." To his surprise, he was offered an opportunity to come to the US in 2011, shortly after his neighbor won his election. Despite his promising career in Congolese politics, Kuelo decided to take the opportunity. He explains how he started his new life in New York City, where an aunt lived, as a factory worker. Conditions were bad enough that he considered returning to the Congo (only to be convinced to stay by the same neighbor who he had helped elect to parliament). After deciding to stay, Kuelo followed a friend's advice and moved from New York to Beardstown, Illinois, where a growing number of Congolese had found work in a local meatpacking plant. Although he disliked the lack of privacy (eventually moving to Springfield, IL), he stayed in the area, working as a rib trimmer in the plant, and becoming an important figure in the union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 431. He explains how, over time, he became a shop steward and later a part-time union representative and organizer. At the time of the interview, he was involved in recruiting workers to join the union in right-to-work Iowa at a unionized plant in Waterloo. His reflections include a discussion of "workers' language," comparisons between unions in the US and Africa, the qualities necessary for survival as a meatpacking worker, and UFCW contract priorities.

Names

  • Mabiala Kuelo, Simplice, 1985- interviewee.
  • McKerley, John W., interviewer.
  • Occupational Folklife Project, sponsor.

Created / Published

  • 2016-12-12

Headings

  • -  Mabiala Kuelo, Simplice,--1985---Interviews
  • -  Packing-house workers--Social life and customs
  • -  Wages
  • -  Clubs
  • -  Collective bargaining
  • -  Health insurance
  • -  Diversity in the workplace
  • -  Education
  • -  Employee morale
  • -  Factories
  • -  Hazardous occupations
  • -  Holidays
  • -  Industrial safety
  • -  Industrial relations
  • -  Labor contract
  • -  Labor laws and legislation
  • -  Labor unions
  • -  Blue collar workers
  • -  Meat industry and trade--Iowa
  • -  Packing-house workers--Iowa--Interviews
  • -  Waterloo (Iowa),--event place

Genre

  • Sound recordings
  • Interviews
  • Oral histories
  • Personal narratives

Notes

  • -  Recorded in Waterloo, Iowa, December 12, 2016.
  • -  Recent immigrant workers in Iowa's meatpacking industry Archie Green Fellows Project, 2015-2016 (AFC 2015/026: 03322) Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • -  To honor the memory of Archie Green (1917-2009), a fellowship program was established at the American Folklife Center in 2010. Archie Green Fellowships support new research in the contemporary culture and traditions of American workers.
  • -  In English.

Medium

  • 1 sound file (wav) (01:47:53) : digital, sound.
  • 1 manuscript : pdf, text file.

Source Collection

  • Recent immigrant workers in Iowa's meatpacking industry Archie Green Fellows Project, 2015-2016 AFC 2015/026: 03322

Repository

  • Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC USA 20540 to 4610 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.afc/folklife.home

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2020655379

Rights Advisory

  • Duplication of collection materials may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Access Advisory

Online Format

  • image
  • audio
  • pdf

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.) or any other restrictions in the material in this collection, except as noted below. Users should keep in mind that the Library of Congress is providing access to these materials strictly for educational and research purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other holders of rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. See our Legal Notices and Privacy and Publicity Rights for additional information and restrictions.

The individuals documented by the Occupational Folklife Project retain copyright and related rights to the use of their recorded and written testimonies and memories.  They have granted the Library of Congress permission to provide access to their interviews and related materials for purposes that are consistent with the agency’s educational mission, such as publication and transmission, in whole or in part, on the Web. Project participants’ written permission is required for any commercial, profit-making distribution, reproduction, or other use beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

The American Folklife Center and the Occupational Folklife Project fieldworkers who carry out these projects feel a strong ethical responsibility to the people they have visited and who have consented to have their lives documented for the historical record. The Center asks that researchers approach the materials in this collection with respect for the culture and sensibilities of the people whose lives, ideas, and creativity are documented here. Researchers are also reminded that privacy and publicity rights may pertain to certain uses of this material.

Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these collection materials should contact the Folklife Reading Room for assistance. 

Credit line

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Mabiala Kuelo, Simplice, Interviewee, John W McKerley, and Sponsor Occupational Folklife Project. Simplice Mabiala Kuelo interview conducted by John W. McKerley, -12-12. -12-12, 2016. Pdf. https://www.loc.gov/item/2020655379/.

APA citation style:

Mabiala Kuelo, S., McKerley, J. W. & Occupational Folklife Project, S. (2016) Simplice Mabiala Kuelo interview conducted by John W. McKerley, -12-12. -12-12. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2020655379/.

MLA citation style:

Mabiala Kuelo, Simplice, Interviewee, John W McKerley, and Sponsor Occupational Folklife Project. Simplice Mabiala Kuelo interview conducted by John W. McKerley, -12-12. -12-12, 2016. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2020655379/>.