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, November 3, 2004

Voters seek comfort in company of others

Chapel Hill News, Nov. 3, 2004

CHAPEL HILL -- Joe Herzenberg walked through the front door of the Orange County Social Club in downtown Carrboro, dwarfed by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer's face looming on the enormous television screen taking up one entire wall.

Herzenberg, a former Chapel Hill Town Council member and a close observer of all things political, stood for a moment and took in the scene. Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson, wearing a T-shirt that said, "George W. Bush: You're fired," hurried over from the bar to greet him.

"Hi, Mike," Herzenberg said. "What do you know?"

"I have a good feeling," Nelson said.

"Yes, but what do you KNOW?" Herzenberg asked.