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.

Thursday, March 12, 1992

Walkers have foothold in Chapel Hill

The News & Observer, March 12, 1992

By SUSAN KAUFFMAN, Staff writer

CHAPEL HILL -- You've seen them -- on Franklin and North Columbia Streets, in Eastowne, on campus or near Broad Street in Carrboro. On foot. In pairs or alone. Dogs in tow. Briskly moving along, or strolling casually.

The walkers of Chapel Hill are restless regulars on the sidewalks and pathways.


They like the fresh air, the chance to commune with nature, or to brush the cobwebs from their minds. Some, such as Town Council member Joseph A. Herzenberg, refuse to own cars and walking is their form of transportation.

"It's a statement of sort," Herzenberg said. "I think too much of our life and world is dominated by private automobiles. Some people couldn't live without them."

Herzenberg, who saunters downtown, views exercise as a byproduct of walking. More importantly, it's a great way to socialize and keep abreast of the latest news.

"I never quite learned to leave home early enough to get someplace on time," Herzenberg said. "I'm frequently interrupted, but that's OK."

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