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, June 15, 1992

Homosexuals Plan Rally: Leaders Calling for Anti-Bias Laws

The State, Columbia, S.C., June 15, 1992


Scores of gay men and lesbians and their supporters from across South Carolina will rally on the State House Saturday to protest the lack of laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination.

But organizers of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride March say this weekend will also be a time of celebration. Matt Tischler, executive chairman of the local Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement, said the march "is a chance for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, their friends and supporters to come together."


Among the featured speakers at Saturday's rally will be Chapel Hill, N.C. Mayor Pro Tempore Joe Herzenberg, the only openly gay public officeholder in the Carolinas. Herzenberg will talk about the homosexual's role in shaping public policy. "It's important for gay men and lesbians to run and be elected to office," he said.


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