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, December 23, 1988

To live in Robeson County, NC is like to live in Mississippi 20 years ago


Fayetteville Observer, Dec. 23, 1988

CARRBORO (UPI) - About 15 religious and community leaders Thursday pleaded for New York Gov. Mario Cuomo to reject extraditing Indian activist Timothy Jacobs to North Carolina to face kidnap charges. The contingent also asked Cuomo to request the New York attorney general to investigate circumstances in Robeson County that led Jacobs and Eddie Hatcher to take 17 people hostage at The Robesonian newspaper office on Feb. 1.


"I don't think people today have any idea that to live in Robeson County, NC, is like to live in Mississippi 20 years ago," said Joe Herzenberg, a Chapel Hill Town Council member. Herzenberg says he wrote Cuomo a personal letter on Jacobs' behalf. A hearing is scheduled in mid-January in New York...