Campaign flyer from Joe’s first Chapel Hill Town Council race, 1979

About Joe

My photo
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, August 16, 1998

ACLU seeks nominees for top award

Chapel Hill Herald, Aug. 16, 1998 - Letter to the Editor

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking nominations for our 1998 Charles and Dorcas Jones Award.

This award, initiated in 1993, recognizes a person or group who has made outstanding contributions to civil liberties and civil rights in Orange and Chatham counties, the area served by the local ACLU chapter.

Previous recipients of the Jones award include: Joe and Lucy Straley, 1993; Rebecca Clark, 1994; Robert Seymour, 1995; Dan Pollitt, 1996; and the UNC housekeepers, 1997.

The deadline for submitting nominations is Aug. 31.

To make a nomination, call 929-4052 and leave a brief message, or drop a note to ACLU, P.O. Box 1285, Chapel Hill, 27514.

Joe Herzenberg
Chapel Hill

Saturday, June 27, 1998

Joe's 57th Birthday Dinner, 1998

Joe at his 57th birthday dinner, June 27, 1998. Photo and invite courtesy of Mark Donahue.

Sunday, June 7, 1998

The Henderson Street shootings

Chapel Hill Herald, June 7, 1998

CHAPEL HILL -- During the past several weeks, readers have voted, by mail and via the Internet, on what they see as the 10 most important stories published in The Chapel Hill Herald during the past decade.

3. The Henderson Street shootings.

Joe Herzenberg's first thought was about gun control. Seeing a man walk down your street with a high-powered weapon will do that.

"He was carrying this rifle, and I was thinking, `Is it illegal to carry a rifle on the street?' " said Herzenberg, a Cobb Terrace resident and former town councilman. "And while I was thinking, he turned to the house next door and started firing on it. He was actually killing somebody."

Herzenberg could only watch as a deranged UNC law student, Wendell Williamson, gunned down the first of two men he would kill during his Jan. 26, 1995, shooting rampage.

Ralph Walker Jr., a restaurant worker, died on the steps of his Cobb Terrace rooming house. Williamson's other victim, UNC lacrosse player Kevin Reichardt, fell between two parked cars. He had been riding up Henderson Street on his bike.

Dozens of people witnessed the shootings, and many were lucky not to lose their own lives. Williamson, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, set out that day to kill as many people as possible. He thought himself to have telepathic powers, and was angry that no one believed him.

A jury later acquitted Williamson of his crimes, judging that his insanity freed him of responsibility for his actions. He remains hospitalized in a state mental institution in Morganton.

Saturday, May 2, 1998

Jacobs has all the tools for commissioner

Chapel Hill Herald, May 2, 1998

Just writing to encourage support for Barry Jacobs for Orange County Commissioner in the Democratic primary on Tuesday (the polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.)

Barry has a distinguished record of public service, including terms on the Orange County Planning Board and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority board, both of which he chaired. He has progressive positions on various issues, including the environment, civil rights for all, social service, affordable housing and public schools. He is open to new ideas. He works well with elected officials in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough. And, perhaps most importantly, Barry will listen to the voices of all citizens and help provide civil leadership for our county. We can do better.

I urge your vote for Barry Jacobs for county commissioner on Tuesday.

Joe Herzenberg
Chapel Hill

Thursday, January 1, 1998

Reminiscences of Running Water Farm and RFD Journal

By Stuart Norman
Greensboro, NC 1998

I first began visiting Running Water Farm in 1982. Located on a mountainside outside the picturesque town of Bakersville, NC, Run Hua, as it was sometimes affectionately called by the Faeries, was a faerie sanctuary and home of RFD Journal, presided over by its editor, Ron Lambe. Ron was a member of a collective, Gay Community Social Services, based in Seattle, that owned Running Water and was also responsible for RFD. It was a primitive place - just one small old house, an outbuilding-cum barn, and an outhouse. At least there was electricity and a phone.

(RFD's) move from Oregon to North Carolina coincided with the move of (Carl) Wittman and (Alan) Troxler to nearby Durham, but their involvement with RFD was essentially over. In the summer of 1980, RFD moved to Bakersville in the mountains of western North Carolina where it was produced by a four-man gay collective on the Running Water Farm. Eventually, in 1993, it was moved to Liberty, Tennessee, where it recently produced its 132nd issue (Winter 2008; see The themes that RFD continues to explore were in large measure defined by Wittman and are a testament to his enduring influence. These include community, diverse sexuality, caring for the environment, supporting gays in prison, poetry, prose, drawing, photography, Radical Faerie consciousness, nature-centered spirituality, and sharing experiences.

- from "A spirit of the 60's," by D.E. Mungello, Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, May-June, 2008

From early spring through the fall various faerie gatherings were held there, the most important were on the summer equinox and the solstices, others might be spontaneous. Attendance might be from a handful to over 50. Anything magical might happen, and did. But RW was also a year around home for Ron and faeries were welcome to visit at anytime. Usually there were three or four temporary residents, staying from a few days to several months. The winters there were harsh and the long gravel road up the mountainside was treacherous and the residents might be snowed in for a couple of weeks, so there were few visitors in those short, cold days. I can only remember it as a warm place, full of love and happiness. I’m sure many others share that memory.

Running Water is no longer a faerie sanctuary, although still owned by the collective, it was shut down by the county in 1989 for lack of proper sanitary facilities. The homophobia of a bible-thumping area must also be held accountable. After ten years as editor and needing a change in life, Ron moved on to nearby Asheville and a growing political-environmental activism. RFD moved to Short Mountain Sanctuary in Tennessee, where it is alive and well.

Faeries associated with RFD, Running Water and of influence in the gay movement I have known:

Carl Wittman (d), activist, author of “The Gay Manifesto", 1970?
Alan Troxler, activist, Durham, NC
Allan Berube, activist, author “Coming Out Under Fire", 1993; SF, CA
Fred Brungard, aka Sister Missionary Position (Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, SF), Short Mountain, TN
Gary Kaupman, editor, Southern Voice, Atlanta, GA
Barry Yeoman, editor, The Independent, Durham, NC
Don King, activist, Charlotte, NC
Fegele Ben Miriam, activist, Chapel Hill, NC; now Seattle, WA
Lee Mullis (d), activist, Chapel Hill, NC
Ron Lambe, warden of Running Water Farm, editor of RFD, 1978-88; Asheville, NC
Charles Hall, aka Crazy Owl, Chinese Herbalist; Atlanta, GA
Lightning Brown (d), activist; Chapel Hill, NC
James Broughton, poet, filmmaker; Port Townsend, WA
Joe Herzenberg, activist, politician; Chapel Hill, NC
Lou Harrison, composer; Aptos, CA
Franklin Abbott, psychologist; Atlanta, GA