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.

Friday, January 27, 1995

Gunman kills 2 at UNC

Two are killed and two injured as a gunman sprays bullets over two blocks near the UNC-Chapel Hill campus

Greensboro News & Record, Jan. 27, 1995, Page A1

Joe Herzenberg looked out from his second-floor window and was astonished to see a man walking along Henderson Street casually clutching a semi-automatic rifle.

"I really wondered whether he was violating the law," Herzenberg says.

That question became academic seconds later.

"He started firing at the house next door," says 53-year-old Herzenberg, a former Chapel Hill town council member. And the man kept on firing for the next 10 minutes, aiming at people and autos ...

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