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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Roses to Joe Herzenberg

Chapel Hill News, Feb. 21, 2001 - Roses and Raspberries

Roses to Joe Herzenberg of Chapel Hill and Bonnie Davis of Hillsborough, co-winners of this year's Pauli Murray Human Relations Award.

The honor is given by the Orange County Human Relations Commission to residents who have served the pursuit of equality, justice and human rights for all citizens.

The award is made in the name of the Rev. Pauli Murray, the first ordained black woman priest in the Episcopal Church, who lived in Durham and performed services at Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill.

Herzenberg deserves recognition for his persistent advocacy on behalf of the disenfranchised and victims of discrimination. A former Chapel Hill Town Council member, he is chair of the Chapel Hill Greenway Commission and the Merritt Pasture Access Committee.


The awards will be presented Sunday at 1 p.m. in a ceremony at A.L. Stanback Middle School.

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