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.

Tuesday, January 31, 1995

Gun control drive resumes

The News & Observer, Jan. 31, 1995

CHAPEL HILL -- Even though Chapel Hill has the toughest gun law in the state, some town residents say it's not enough.

In the wake of last week's shooting rampage that left two dead and three wounded, gun control was again on the Chapel Hill Town Council's agenda Monday. A petition with about 1,000 signatures was submitted calling for an outright ban on all guns in Chapel Hill.


Others suggested the council start with something a little more modest, such as passing an ordinance that would prohibit someone from carrying a large gun in the town limits.

"It seems to me a lot of people in Chapel Hill think if someone walked around the neighborhood with a large gun, that is threatening," said Joe Herzenberg, a former Town Council member and Cobb Terrace resident who made the first 911 call to police when the shooting started last week.

"It did occur to me that what that guy was doing was not illegal until he started shooting. I think that's wrong and I think most people in Chapel Hill think that's wrong."

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