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, December 30, 1996

Peek at town's new year promises

Chapel Hill Herald, Dec. 30, 1996


CHAPEL HILL -- The new year is just around the corner, and if you haven't made a new year's resolution, now is the time to start thinking about them. Here's a sampling of resolutions from Orange County residents.


Newly elected state Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird doesn't make resolutions. "I don't believe in New Year's resolutions," she said. "If you can't do it the rest of the year, what makes you think you can do it now?"


Manju Rajendran, a 16-year-old activist, has a simple resolution. "I'm going to save the world," she said. "I've been trying for a long time, but it isn't happening."


Chapel Hill citizen Joe Herzenberg, who can be seen regularly walking in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, has three resolutions. "Walk more. Two is write more, and three is improve my Hebrew," he said.

Herzenberg already has started on the Hebrew resolution. "Well, I went to the library today, and I got some books," he said.

And he vows to write more than just a few notes and cards next year. "It's incredible how little I write," he said. "There's a couple of books I've started and not finished. I could go on and on."