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.

Sunday, April 14, 1996

Pep rally attracts county Democrats

Chapel Hill Herald, April 14, 1996


HILLSBOROUGH -- All the county's "movers and shakers" were present as Orange County's Democrats gathered Saturday for a pep rally in the Margaret Lane Court House.

The annual Orange County Democratic Convention included everything from greetings from the Democratic president to barbecue cooked by the local Democratic sheriff.


Delegates sought support for ... Jim Hunt, for governor; and Harvey Gantt, to replace Sen. Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.

In supporting Gantt, former Chapel Hill Councilman Joe Herzenberg said Democrats would do the state and the country a great honor by voting Gantt into office.

"I think this time we can make it," Herzenberg said.

"We can finally bring our senior senator home where he can spend more time with his grandchildren, who I'm sure miss him," he added, to the delight of the audience.