tv Occupied Minds LINKTV April 28, 2022 6:00am-7:01am PDT
- i' probablembalmedclose te my wholcareer if i am grieng. - everody wantto do their n. - , not sced of ha work. just, it's aew thing -- - yeah, 's a neway ana new time. - [announcer]: major funding for reel south was provided by: etv endowment, the national endowment for the arts, center for asian-american media,
- when i was a kid, i would put on my bow tie, and my tricycle was my hearse. whatever i could find, you know, rodents, ants, i was always busy on saturday. i had more funerals than anybody in town. i've probably embalmed close to 10,000 people in my whole career, and that's a lot of dying. - ok. - i have to separate my emotions from everything else, because i'm here to do a job. i don't see how i can help a family through grief if i'm grieving. can i ask you to do something? on that mole, can you just put a--
- darken it? - huh? - you want to darken it a bit more? - yeah, just a little bit more, just a little bit more. because that was her-- i don't want to say trademark, but that was her. you know, that was her. - she look nice. - she looks really nice, man. - as far as james is concerned, i would say, if he's not the best mortician in the united states, i would certainly put him in the top five. i had one lady to tell me that if james dies before she does, we need to devise a way to have him exhumed soe can come and embalm her, - i was selected by my peers
for being the national embalmer of the year. this profession, that's the highest honor yocan get. the profession has given me so much, and i want to maintain this integrity. mr. pierre, right now we have to get sunny taken to the back, remove that pacemaker, and then take him to the crematory. ok. ok. they have what they call internships for students to come here and do eight weeks. you all right? that's good, that's good. most times, we don't even have openings for jobs here, but they are at least prepared to go out so that they can know the reality of the profession and make a sound choice of do i really wt to do this or not? let me have a scalpel.
you disappeared. - i went to go do something. - we have been remembering, with love d gratude, a fe that has ended. they may not be with us physically, but they will be with us always in our hearts and in our memories. may you have a blessed day and safe travels. thank you. that's the whole thing. james bryant: you're making me cry. [laughter] that's good. tony hendricks: that's what i'm taking about. that was real good. james bryant: that's good. clarence pierre: on behalf of lewis funeral home and staff, we would like to, again, extend our sincere condolences to the jones family. we would like to thank you for entrusting your services and your loved one into our care. to all the serving units and supporters of this service, we thank you as well. inclusion, there is an invitation
for repassed to follow the committal service back at the church. be careful driving, and have a nice day. james bryant: i think you may want to leave out have a nice day. i'm burying momma. i'm not going to have a nice day. so you can cut that part over right. the top part of it was good. tony hendricks: it's real good. james bryant: you know? but just think about it. if your mother passed away, would you want somebody to tell you to have a nice day? that's a good critique. that's just constructive because you don't want to say that. tony hendricks: even when you answer the phones here at lewis funeral home. james bryant: my mom died and i called here anyou pick up the phone and say, good morning, lewis funeral home. i'm going to ask you, what's so good about i my mother just passed. [music playing]
- ok, i'll have tony take it and send it to you. yeah. right now, i just have an old one. ok. - i'm still available at my cell phone. and i'll be in a service for the next hour and a half. lois washington: the funeral home has been in the community for years and years and years. and it's the oldest black funeral home here in the city. james bryant: we were not allowed to be buried from the white establishments. there were not many professional doors open to the black community. so the most prominent people was your minister, the school teacher slash principal, and the undertaker.
they were the people that the young people in the community will strive to be like. those all the black film directors, they were on point. i'm proud to be a product of those guys. i started undeeddie in 1968. and i always wanted to strive to be as good an embalmer as he was. all right, here we come. lonzetta bryant: come on in. james bryant: all right. ok. so how-- you been doing fairly well? yeah? lonzetta bryant: eddie's feeding tube came out thursday before good friday. the old one came out. i was worn out for a week and half. jas bryant: i think the hardest time for me was when i came from vietnam. and i think that's when eddie really started like sheltering me real hard
because he could see a difference in me. and i ink he just-- he wanted to keep me out of trouble. i mean, who knows? i might not even have gotten his way without you. and i'm just thankful. i tell everybody. i tell them how you used to cuss me out. [laughs] i'll tell you, when i messed up, them veins starts to-- i knew that i got to get on. i started with you when i was 17. and i'm 67 now. so don't you think it's time? eddie bryant: yeah. james bryant: you still be going to-- you still be going to, you know. it's hard to quit though. we've gone to o this conventio. and it's so small now because everybody then died off. yeah, otis and all of them are gone. mr. washington-- that's why organizations die out
because nobody-- everybody wants to be on beat. everybody want to do their own thing now. i mean, we need some young people. lonzetta bryant: yeah. james bryant: but there's a lot of blesses. we'll just keep going and ke on trucking. we'll be all right. you're going to look at the spurs tonight? who are they playing? clarence pierre: i came from a white funeral home to come to lewis. i knew about the black funerals because, of course, if my family dies, we're going to a black funeral home. so i'm like, i know the kind of what y'all do. but i want to know exactly what's the magic behind the curtains of it. james bryant: clarence came out of a white environment. so working at a white [? farm, ?] to him, was not out of the norm. what was out of the norm for him was coming here. so he has to learn some things and learn
how to make some adjustments. tony hendricks: mainly, when we're in school, the book is teaching you white embalming. but when you get out in the real world, and you go to a black funeral home, you're embalming is going to be different. funeral might not be to two weeks, three weeks. you have to hold the body out longer. they want to wait till all relatives come in town. a lot of them do want to touch and feel their loved one. that's-- they feel that-- or a kiss. and you have to know what chemical is going to be best fit for that person. and james knows what he's doing. james bryant: you put anything on his hair? clarence pierre: uh-huh. james bryant: what?
clarence pierre: some oil. james bryant: did you put some on him? clarence pierre: no, i thought you was asking me, am i going to put something-- james bryant: no, you didn't. well, i'mma have to really-- i'mma have to-- i have to work harder with you. [laughter] [piano playing] so you scared of hard work? clarence pierre: no, not scared of hard work. just like you said, it's a new day-- james bryant: you want to walk in on easy street. clarence pierre: yeah, it's a new day and new time. james bryant: i can remember when i first went to see one of my grandmother's brothers who died back in '57, '57. philippine lucky funeral home in rockdale had his body. and they wouldn't let us come through the front door to view him. we had to go through the back. they went in, oh, yes, sir. you so good to us. and we gone through the back door. now you can go through the front door.
clarence pierre: since been at the age of 5, i always was curious about death. i always wanted to go to funerals. i was like called to those events. - we are starting a new chapter today digestive system clarence pierre: it doesn't faze me to be in the back of a funeral home. i know this is what i want to be doing. if you was coming to my funeral home, it would be totally whoa experience. it has to be two chapels in there. two state rooms. i want a catering. chandeliers in the sky. i'm talking about big funeral home. and then, of course, i want to be different. can i move that flower to the end and get a tall vase and put this on top of there on the head end? tony hendricks: why would you move the stand to put a vase up there? clarence pierre: because a vase is more personaliz than a casket. tony hendricks: let's see what it look like. james bryant: yeah. and then we could see a point... clarence pierre:you have
young millennial people telling you, this is what's attractive to us now. funeral home cannot run off a reputation forever. james bryant: whales-- they have funerals. clarce pierre: what kind of funerals they got? james bryant: you should check it out. clarence pierre: ok-- james bryant: you should check it out. like when a orca is killed or dies, they swim together. they push the dead. i don't know where they take it to. probably to the depths. but they have a neral. clarence pierre: and what about the-- james bryant: and of movie-- orca, the movie, was a true story about their mentality. they killed the female. and they had a funeral for her. and the male hunted them down until he got them
for killing them. have you ever seen that movie? ok, say the blessed. clarence pierre: lord god, we thank you for this food. lord god, we thank you for this time and this fellowship. we ask to be a nourishment for our body. jesus name we pray. amen. james bryant: once you graduate and you get license, you want to establish yourself in the funeral community. that's what i'm trying get you to do. clarence pierre: yeah, i know. i'm interested-- james bryant: you want to be known, not so that you can be puffed up in your own self, but that you can be recognized. i had some great times in this business, man. clarence pierre: [laughs]
- we're celebrating our 80th national annual convention of the national funeral directors and morticians association incorporated. let us not reflect on today, but all of our colleagues who blaze a trail and paved the way for our very existence on today. let us never forget their sacrifice. james bryant: i grew up in a segregated industry knowing that i could never work in a white funeral home, knowing that i could never be a member of a white convention. our associations was what we had so we could still be the professionals we knew we were. [interposing voices] let's go around over here on this way. let's go around on this side.
integration is what we fall for. and not those that feel like, well, ok, now i don't need this anymore. that's fine if that's how you feel. but there are a few of us that want to hold on to what we've always had. i hope, in my lifetime, it doesn't go away. ♪ get in there! yeah, yeah! ♪ ey big girl, make em' back it up, ♪ ♪ make em' back it up [helicopter sound] - is this our first time in a helicopter? james bryant: no, sir. i'm a vietnam veteran. - all right! james bryant: let's go. hey! i like that view! [laughs] yeah, man. this brings back memories. yeah!
i was 18 years old, and i got drafted. so many of the guys that was in our unit didn't come back home. i saw death and destruction, being that i was a tank driver. and after about two months, i started using opium. i mean, i never forget the first time i use it. it was like, oh, this is it. i can fight all night long. but you find yourself chasing that same high. and it's not going to ever, ever be there anymore. so that's how addiction kicks in. this is me and my family. this is my uncle, eddie, at his family. when i got back, he started mentoring me.
and he never pushed me away. all right, let's close this behind. that's why i'm still here, because i had people that invested in me. and i have to pass that on. soap. hold it. put that on down. just tell me what embalming is. you can pull your mask down. clarence pierre: embalming as a temporary process, which prevents, controls, and retards postortem changes to the body, also known as decomposition. james bryant: just say that last part of again. the very last part. it does what? prevent an- clarence pierre: preve, control, and retard post-mortem changes to the body, also known as decomposition.
that's why we take such care to do the best that we can possibly do. and i stand on that. i stand on that. yeah, he feels very good. that's what you'd be looking for. yeah, yeah, yeah. they play that song at every funeral majority of the time. oh, no. that's the part where you get everybody close at the casket, right? they all start falling out at that part. [phone ringing] - yes, sir? james bryant: ok, date and time of death? thank you so much. and we'll be-- i say shortly. but give us at least a couple hours.
thank you. ok, bring the stretcher. things have changed in funeral homes. a lot of these white funeral homes, they bury more blacks than what you think. they say, we ain't got to go way over there on the east side. my money is green to them. and they don't have to come over here no more. that's good. the san antonio community was close knit. everybodbasically knew everyone. and so therefore, when someone died, everybody would have rally to them for support. but it's different now. there's not really what we could call a black neighborhood anymore. integration, better jobs have diversified our community.
we'll spread out all over the city now. - amen. i was to offer your sweet... may god bless you, and may god keep you. we thank god today. james bryant: our church is the oldest black baptist church in san antonio. - and we are just grateful to god to see all of our visitors in the house today. thank you for being here. james bryant: growing up, you didn't get there by 11 o'clock on sunday morning, you didn't get a seat. that included the balcony. - we are just grateful to the god today for another opportunity to worship and praise his holy and righteous name. amen. rev. paul wilkinson: me and james grew up here in this church. and when i came back in 2013 for that first year, and i was burying my members that pretty much raised me.
when this was a black community, the black funeral homes were just part of who we are and part of the community. and what's happening with that community and that with the communityow is that someone else sees value in being on this side othe tracks. the people in our neighborhood that don't have one of these new houses that's being built, their tax base is going up, which is forcing them to lose their houses because they can't pay the taxes. i have fond memories of living in this neighborhood, of growing up here, going to school here. and pretty much, they're just memories now.
jackie mitchell: hi, cousin. watcha wanna do? james bryant: huh? how are you doing? jackie mitchell: i'm good. james bryant: that's good. how y'all doing? all right? jackie mitchell: hi, how you doing? james bryant: i'm doing ok. jackie mitchell: we've known each other a long time. we go back really back. and there were lots of families at our church. it was a huge church at that time. and we just connected. james bryant: oh, i'm good, baby. jackie mitchell: you good, uncle? my mom requested that, when she passed on, thate would take care of her body. [interposing voices] - we're thankful for the life of this, our sister and mother, who walked in mundane shore. and she heard the voice of jesus said, come under me and rest.
lay down, thy weary one. lay down thy head upon my beast. jackie mitchell: that's the last you'll see them, or you'll see their body on this earth. i want to have that picture with me. yeah, i do. - oh god, we come this afternoon just to say thank you. lord, we know that you are an awesome god. jackie mitchell: yes, you are. - and, lord, we love you and you love us. amen. jackie mitchell: we got him. we got him. bye, mom. bye, mom. we'll see you tomorrow. i love you. [sobs]
what's up? come here. come here. come here. good boy. the va told me i needed to get something that i would enjoy doing, especially for all of us that are being diagnosed with ptsd. and so this gives me the therapy that i need. humans will deceive you. they won't. and you have to treat them nice because they know the difference. goodbye. goodbye. goodbye. goodbye.
my whole goal was, ok, when i left vietnam, the war is over, so i'm through fighting, and i'm through using drugs. but it don't work like that. i learned how to live with it. it didn't keep me from working, from having a social life, from having a religious life. i became a functional addict. i got a free pass because when you dealing with death from all ages, the community seemed to have compassion that you just can't do that and be natural. and i bought right into it. and then, i wasn't looked upon in the community as just old flat straight out addict, you know? i had a cause. and yeah, it worked.
rev. paul wilkinson: when we read psalms 51, david repented. - amen. rev. pauwilkinson: and made his way back to god because we mess up, amen? amen. can i tell you a personal story? can i get a little personal here? because i caused my mother a lot of pain. i caused my mother grief. i've actually seen my mother shed tears and asked me, what is it going to take for you to do right? james bryant: when i got pulled over in 2003, they searched my car. and they found cocaine and marijuana.
and that's when they came out with the bad county felony drug court program. and i'm still in it. when i had to go away to go to jail and to rehab, i was at a funeral home where, even though i had my own failures, they still embraced me. and i got another chance. that's why it's my home. that's why it has been literally my life. i wanted to come today because i didn't want to miss mother's day. if i could do it all over again, i would want these in my life.
i don't care about rich people having somebody rich or-- i would want them because they gave me what money couldn't buy. and that's good. i'mma send the picture to johnson and jerry so they can see. and i'm just thankful y'all pay us-- [crash] whoa! man! what happened? whoa! man, he done tore up -- he done tore up miss young's gate. i have to call her and tell her.
what a way to crash in the cemetery. that's not good. [laughs] that's not good. annamarie lopez: it's almost over. and i'm just-- i'm happy because i'm almost there. i really am. clarence pierre: i know this is what i want to do, what i love to do. get it done and then you can move on. james bryant: listen up. i want you all to work together on this. i'm going to let you all go as far as you possibly can. so if that means you can go all the way, that's fine. but i want to see where i've gotten y'all so far.
what? what are we doing here? annamarie lopez: she's asking me how much primer? it's a whole bottle. james bryant: how did you choose triton out everything across this cabinet? why did you choose triton? annamarie lopez: very astringent, and it's not too weak. james bryant: ok. any other reason? clarence pierre: --because we found edema. james bryant: and what would triton do with the edema? clarence pierre: it'll help-- james bryant: i hear you. james bryant: help what? james bryant: i love the guy. i mean, i think that he has the potential. but he has to get out of self. and i hope he comes to the realization that he still has a lot of growing to do. clarence pierre: my mom has been trying
to get me to come back home since i moved here. every time i try to go back home, it never felt right. i was like, i'm missing something. i had always, after since growing up, always had an attraction to the se sex. i have been praying since i was 14 all the way to 18 for god to change me for being gay. i started preaching when i was 10. you're conflicted because you're preaching one thing, but then you're living this. i went all the way just going through the whole process of mixed emotions, all the way to trying to find acceptance. my biggest problem has been that i uplift people all the time, but i never have nobody else tbe there for me. [music playing] damn.
james bryant: all men have their preferences, no matter what it is. you can be whatever you want to be. and that's between you and god. is it wrong in my book? yes. but who am i? i have my own faults. i have had my own struggles. it wasn't as being gay but it was something else. so i accept the struggles of others. but that's your struggle.
clarence pierre: i need a job to help me provide for myself, where i won't have to be always begging my parents for money or worrying about how i'm going to pay this or that. [cell phone rings] - (on phone): good morning, mr. pierre? clarence pierre: good morning. i just wanted to confirm-- i got the apartment at st. marcus. and i just wanted to confirm with you everything before i pay the deposit tomorrow that-- - (on phone): ok, i have mentioned you already to my supervisor. and then as i stated, if everything is well, then it would be a part-time position, ok? it would not be a full tim clarence pierre: ok. - (on phone): i know it's going to be part-time. it won't be full-time right now. i have to tell you that now. clarence pierre: ok, yes. i thank you so much. - (on phone): than. bye-bye.
clarence pierre: hey, how are you? - (on phone): i'm doing fine clarence pierre: hey, i want to see if you have any position for a funeral director up there. - (on phone): no. not right now we don't. the only think i could do a new contract work. but right now, we can't take on any full time staff. clarence pierre: ok. i'm black, but i don't feel like i'm accepted even by my own kind. like why would i be faithful to the black community if they're not being faithful to me? because i'm gay, i supposed to be weak or not strong enough or not capable of doing something? i don't feel like anything is wrong with being gay.
- i'm a singing preacher. so i'm going to go ahead and just sing one of my favorite songs. (singing) we cannot see in the future. and we cannot see to the clouds. [applause] --because it is not the first time i have been to a crossroad in my life. it's not the first time i have to look and say, god, come on down and see about me. i'm sitting here, i'm going to church every sunday. i'm doing your will and your way, god. but it seems like every time i get forward, i get pushed backwards. i can't explain how he made a way out of no way. i can explain how i went to school away from my family
not knowing anybody, being all by myself, and didn't know how i was going to make it. but he made a way t of no way. you're a walking testimony on this one now. ain't it good? ain't it good? yeah! (singing) i know it's all right. it's all right. it's all right. - it may seem like, in your life, it ain't your turn yet. but if you got the right kind of faith, god will lose in your life.
james bryant: well, mr. gram's going to be proud of you. clarence pierre: [laughs] he is. when he asked me to find him somebody, i thought i could recommend you. well, if i tell you, i think it's a good opportunity. you should try it. i haven't told you nothing wrong yet, have i? clarence pierre: no. but i'm not going to work for mr. gram. james bryant: ok, you'll see. clarence pierre: [laughs] he said, you'll see. james bryant: so where are you doing? clarence pierre: probably at this point, to the white or a hispanic one. james bryant: can i tell you something? clarence pierre: yes, sir. well, here. roy will back me up on this. i'm going to tell him something. i want you to listen. sometimes you have to go and do things that you don't particularly like. am i right? and sometimes, the lord'll work it out,
or he'll be testing to see if you are faithful to that which-- that's what i'm trying to teach him. but he won't listen. i ain't going there. i don't like them. [mumbling] like wherever i go, if they white, they fine. - that ain't what you mean, isn't it? clarence pierre: no. james bryant: well, then tell us what you mean? clarence pierre: i'm just saying that on the funeral homes of african-american, that was the one that i wanted to go to. james bryant: if you don't go there, then look at what-- tell them where you going if you can't get there? clarence pierre: somebody white or hispac. james bryant: see? so there's no-- he wants to go where everything is already set and everything is perfect. and that's not the way life is. i'm just trying to teach him something. but he don't listen. ok, so what's next? clarence: morales? [mispronounces] james bryant: "more or less?" where they located? clarence: "more or less?" annamarie: "morales." clarence: located off of canal. james bryant: what's the name of it?
clarence: "more or less?" "morales?" annamarie: "morales." clarence: yeah. m-o-r-l-a-s? l-a-e-s? annamarie: morales. james bryant: how are you going to work for somedy you can't even spell clarence: [laughs] because i researched them. i researched them. james bryant: it's not m-o-r-a-l-s. that's "morals." clarence pierre: m-o-r-l-a-e-s. l-e-s. james bryant: and what else was about them that was so impressive? clarence pierre: very professional. they have a lot of families. they have high volume. so they're doing good, though. and i would like to go over there and just become a part, if i can, to something that's alrdy going. james bryant: see? there's nothing wrong with going with the funeral home. i grew with this funeral home. this funeral home wasn't doing all this when i started here. but if you want to start off at the top, you know, annamarie say it is fine. so it's ok.
i'll come see you in morals. annamarie lopez: in morals [laughs] clarence pierre: no. what is it? annamarie lopez: morales. claren pierre: morales. james bryant: morales. clarence pierre: yeah. james bryant: i'mma come s you. clarence pierre: ok. james bryant: he knew about wine, not architecture, nor masonry. m-a-s-o-n-r-y. clarence pierre: james was raised in the era of where he could not get hired or work at a white funeral home. james bryant: ok, i'm trying to catch up. clarence pierre: but i didn't have to worry about the division. i don't feel that their experiences back then have anything to do with me now because i don't feel that i have to put myself in a box and say, i can only work at a black funeral home.
i can make it somewhere else. james bryant: my uncle eddie is not doing well at this time. in order to go forward, you have to know where you came from. people like clarence, these young people now, they are what older blacks dreamed of. and that's being integrated. we fought for it. we died for it. we-- it was a eam. but progress comes change. i'm loyal what the black funeral homes stood for then. but i have enough sense to know that that era has changed. you're standing up on the shoulders of people that gave their life for you to go
on these front doors that you had to go through the back door. but this generation, the sky's the limit. but don't forget the launching pad. clarence pierre: thank you. stop! i don't want to cry. i don't want to-- [singing card] ♪ let me hear you say whoop! there it is! ♪ [laughs] wow! [laughter] [singing card] ♪ louder! whoop! there it is! ♪ [laughter] clarence: i'll twerk to this tonight.
i say i'll twerk to this later. [reading] "mr. pierre, oops! there it is! congrats. see you." clarence: thank you so much. i like it. i love it. james bryant: i know you would. clarence pierre: yeah. james bryant: i think both of you will be successful. i really do. it's something that you have to just do. but if you love it, it'll always stay with you. clarence pierre: today, at graduation, it was mixed emotions and stuff like that. so i'm not going to-- i'mma sit out before i start crying. but i just want to say, if anybody wants anything, they have the floor to say it. but... - i am the oldest of them all and the smallest of them all. [laughter] and there's a lot i can say. you did something i never did. and--
clarence prre: i did for us. - that's right clarence pierre: for us. - that's right. and i think-- clarence piee: i knew that i was going to leave the funeral home period. but i didn't know where i was going. and austin, they had different white funeral homes there that was under corporation. they actually love me in interviews. so they said that, hey, we want to hire you. i like the corporation style. [music playing]
james yant: m good thank you. [music - "it is well with my soul"] - (singing) --when my faith shall be sight. the clouds be rolled back as a scroll. even so, it is well with my soul. - we've assembled ourselves here today to celebrate the life of deacon eddie bryant jr. - are you in the house today? i wonder are you going home with me? i love the lord cause he's carrying me home.
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girl: my name is alexandria villaseñor. boy: my name is iglia bra. boy: i'm carl smith. boy: my name is david ackley. [girl speaking native language] girl: my name is ayakha melithafa. boy: my name is raj tanagi. girl: my name is yur kapadaem. boy: my name is litokne kabua. girlmy name is greta. we are actually saying that yo are violatg chilen's right ile you have--u have rectified the un convention of