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Joseph Alexander Herzenberg, II
(June 25, 1941 - October 28, 2007) U.S.A.

Joseph Herzenberg

Historian, political activist


Joe Herzenberg was a native of Franklin, New Jersey. Herzenberg was named Joseph Paul Herzenberg at birth, but took his grandfather's name when he was bar mitzvahed. His parents were Marjorie and Morris Herzenberg.

He received a B.A. in 1963 from Yale University and an M.A. in European History from Yale in 1965. Herzenberg was a Freedom Summer volunteer in Mississippi in 1964. He was appointed instructor and chair of the History Department at Tougaloo College (a historically black college in Jackson, Miss.) in 1965, and was promoted to Assistant Professor at Tougaloo in the 1966-67 academic year.

Joseph HerzenbergJoe was jailed during civil rights protests in Canton, Mississippi, but this gag photo was taken at the last ever segregated ("colored") county fair in Jackson, 1965.

In 1969 Herzenberg moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he enrolled as a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed his dissertation on the career of local civil rights leader Frank Porter Graham. Running as a Democrat, he was narrowly defeated in a 1979 bid for the Chapel Hill Town Council, but was later appointed to the town council when councilmember Gerry Cohen stepped down following a failed bid for mayor. He was the first openly gay elected official in North Carolina.

Herzenberg lost his reelection bid in 1981, and was unsuccessful again in 1983. In 1987, he ran again, and his victory that year that made him the first openly gay elected official in the state. He was reelected with overwhelming support in 1991, receiving an unprecedented vote total for Chapel Hill town council race. Herzenberg resigned from the town council in 1993.

Herzenberg was a noted advocate for the environment, civil liberties, and the interests of low-income people. He was a founder of Equality NC PAC (originally NC Pride PAC), a statewide advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender North Carolinians, and he served on its board for more than a decade.

After leaving the council in 1993, Herzenberg continued to serve the town on several advisory boards, including chairing the Town Greenways Commission and serving on the committee to rename Airport Road in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. He played a great part in the enactment of Chapel Hill's tree protection ordinance, the creation of the Chapel Hill Greenways, and the preservation of the Chapel Hill downtown historic district. Herzenberg received the first Citizen's Award from the Independent Newsweekly in 1984. He died at the age of 66 on October 28, 2007 in Chapel Hill, from complications of diabetes.


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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