Campaign flyer from Joe’s first Chapel Hill Town Council race, 1979

About Joe

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Chapel Hill, N.C., United States
Joe Herzenberg was born June 25, 1941, to Morris & Marjorie Herzenberg. His father owned the town pharmacy in Franklin, N.J., where Joe grew up. After he graduated from Yale University in 1964, Joe went to Mississippi to register voters for Freedom Summer. He joined the faculty of historically black Tougaloo College, where he was appointed chair of the history department. Joe arrived in Chapel Hill in 1969 to enroll as a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina, and, along with his partner Lightning Brown, soon immersed himself in local, state, and national politics. Although Joe’s first campaign for the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1979 was unsuccessful, he was appointed to the Council to fill a vacant seat and served until 1981. In 1987, he was elected to the Council, becoming the former Confederacy's first openly gay elected official. Joe died surrounded by friends on October 28, 2007. He was 66 years old.

Monday, November 1, 1982

Gay Democratic Club?

Lambda, Carolina Gay Association Newsletter, page 2, November, 1982

The organizing that grew out of Lightning and Joe's efforts to form a gay Democratic club in Orange County led to a meeting of approximately twenty activists from across the state on March 27, 1983 at the N.C. Gay and Lesbian Conference in Chapel Hill, and the subsequent founding of the Lesbian and Gay Democrats of North Carolina.

Sunday, March 7, 1982