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

About Joe

My photo
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.

Sunday, April 25, 1993

Joe speaking at March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, 1993

Joe speaking at AIDS quilt display on Washington Mall, April 25, 1993. Photo courtesy of Mark Donahue.

Joe and I were in Washington, D.C. on this day for the 1993 March on Washington. [Editor's note - between 300,000 (National Park Service estimate) and 1,000,000 (organizers' estimate) attended this march.]

This picture was taken while Joe was reading names of those who had died of AIDS. It was a very low-key, solemn event at the AIDS quilt display.

Alas, their P.A. system had broken down, and those reading names were forced to use a bullhorn. Joe, incidentally, got to read the names of several Chapel Hillians who had died, including Lightning Brown, Cheo Torano and Bill Neal (former chef at Crook's Corner).

The armband Joe is wearing says "Lift The Ban," referring to the hopeful effort at the beginning of the Clinton administration that they would lift the ban on gays serving in the military.

- Mark Donahue