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Joe Senkyr-Minjares

Joe Senkyr-Minjares

Renowned actor, playwright, author and owner of Pepito’s Restaurant on 4820 Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Born in north Minneapolis, Joe came from a family of migrant workers.

Born: Minneapolis, MN, United States
Heritage: Mexican-American

Everyone here is gonna be faced with a situation where you’re gonna need to have the courage to face things. It could be something like maybe a bad habit or maybe it’s someone in school that’s giving you a hard time or maybe you think that you’re not pretty enough or note cute enough or maybe you think that you’re overweight or you’re too skinny or whatever it is, you’re gonna run into problems like this and you just really need to know that it’s up to you to face these things yourself.

No one else can make you happy. Nothing you acquire can make you happy. You have to have the courage to face the adversities in your life. To face the good and the bad and to ask questions, ask questions of your parents, of your teachers, ask questions of yourselves.

If you are doing something bad, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If you’re doing something good, ask yourself, “What is it that’s so special about me that I can do this well?”

I hope that you guys have the courage to stand up for what you feel you need to do. That’s about all I have to say. I hope what I said meant something to you and maybe you can learn something by it.

Joe Senkyr-Minjares

Renowned actor, playwright, author and owner of Pepito’s Restaurant on 4820 Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Born in north Minneapolis, Joe came from a family of migrant workers.

My name is Joe Sanger-Minjares. I was born on February the 5th, 1946 in the closing days of World War II. I’m Mexican-American. I was born on the north side of Minneapolis.

I come from a family that was fairly poor. My grandparents and my parents were farm workers. They didn’t come out of the fields until the 1920’s and that’s how they settled in the north side of Minneapolis.

Their first winter, they didn’t have any money. There was no place to go. They went to this Jewish family to see if they could stay in one of their rental properties. They were met with open arms. No one else would rent to us, to African Americans and Mexican Americans.

My mother met a man by the name of Benjamin Minjares when she was working out in the fields during the summer months. They got married and he went away to war. When he came back, his wife, my mother was pregnant from someone else.

I spent a lot of my early childhood trying to figure out who I was; knowing that my father was not my real father, not knowing who my real father was. It wasn’t ‘til I was almost 50 years old that I started looking for this man who was my real father.

My first detective couldn’t find him. Then one morning, I got a phone call from this other detective and he said, “We found him. He’s living in Mexico City.” I was 52 years old and that’s not that long ago.
I got on a plane and I went to Mexico. There stood this man who I had heard about in secret all my life standing there. I looked at him and I thought, “My God, I look just like this guy.”

So I walked up to him, I put my hands out and he pulled me into him and I don’t remember what I said, but everyone started to cry. And he said, in Spanish to me, “I never thought this was going to happen.” And in my broken Spanish, I just said, “I didn’t either.”

Since then, I’ve gone back to meet other relatives and establish a closer bond to that man, my father. Through doing so I’ve, also, established a closer bond to the memory of my mother who’s gone now and the father who raised me.

I’m pretty proud that I had the courage to ask the hard questions in my life. I don’t think there’s anything in the future that will ever stand in my way of seeking the truth every day.


The Truth Will Set You Free

Honoring Joe Senkyr-Minjares

The Truth Will Set You Free
(Honoring Joe Senkyr-Minjares)

The truth will set you free
This I do believe
Have the courage to face the things
You must know
Deep in your soul

My parents and grandparents
They did not come out of the fields
Until 1920, with no money,
Unable to pay their bills.
With four little kids,
One brother and one nephew
Pushed aside, on the north side,
With Africans, Latinos and Jews.
The first father I had
Was not my father at all
Came back from the war,
before I was born
Raised me since I was small
To him a gift from God
Through my mother it seemed
That it would be better,
to hide those letters
Written from my real dad to me
One day in the midst of a fight
My mother she lost control
When she got mad,
“He’s not your real dad.
Your real dad’s in Mexico
With an apron buried in her face
My mother began to cry
A secret on top of a secret
Is nothing more than a lie

Who was he, I asked myself
This father I never had
Did he play guitar, beneath the stars
Was he a brilliant man
Through my life I needed to know
Who am I, where did I come from
The truth took control, down in Mexico
Between a father and son
With a wife and family
There he stood he looked just like me
With tears in his eyes.
Those fears inside
At last were set free
To have the courage to dream
To seek the truth every day
Through good and bad,
with two moms and dads
To each of you I say

Music by LARRY LONG. Words by LARRY LONG with Lisa Stuehringer’s 7th Grade Class of Sanford Middle School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

© Larry Long 2011 / BMI