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.

Tuesday, July 2, 1996

Fireworks on hiatus this year

The News & Observer, July 2, 1996


Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents hoping to catch a fireworks show this Fourth of July will be out of luck unless they roam to Durham, Raleigh or Cary.

For the first time this decade, the town's annual fireworks display at Kenan Stadium will be on hiatus while renovations are made to the football stadium.

The festivities will move to Chapel Hill as residents converge on McCorkle Place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for picnicking, music and a synchronized laser light show.


Joe Herzenberg, a longtime resident and former Town Council member who usually spends the Fourth of July at the Kenan Stadium celebration, said he plans to spend the afternoon picnicking at the Horace Williams House before heading over to McCorkle Place.

"I love fireworks," he said. "But I really don't like the idea of going to Durham, so I'm curious about what these laser lights are like. I'm loyal to my town."

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