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, January 23, 1995

Neighbors, community gather for AIDS home's open house

Chapel Hill Herald, Jan. 23, 1995


CARRBORO -- Throngs of people literally created a warm reception on a cold Sunday afternoon for the AIDS Service Agency of Orange County's open house.

Cars lined both sides of North Greensboro Street for several blocks as neighbors, agency members and supporters came to see what had taken three years to realize: a home for people who have AIDS.

"There was such a need. I never really lost hope that it would be built some day," Agency President Joe Herzenberg said.

In about two weeks, the first residents are expected to move into the one-story brick house at 1700 N. Greensboro St., according to Herzenberg.


"They've done a wonderful job. They've managed to make what could have been a clinical environment very homey," Mike Nelson said. He helped during the fall fundraiser at Crooks Corner which raised $25,000, according to Nelson.

For many of the residents, it will mean a roof over their heads rather than sleeping on the streets and in cars.

"If you're too sick to work and you don't have the support of family, it's awfully hard to pay rent and buy food," Nelson said.

"We probably need 10 homes," he added.

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