Mayor Bell speaks at Gadsden State campus

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By Sarrah Peters

News Editor

Birmingham Mayor William Bell spoke at the Gadsden State Community College’s Valley Street campus on Tuesday, February 17. February is Black History Month. Mayor Bell is the 33rd mayor of Birmingham. Mayor Bell was invited to speak as part of GSCC’s black history program.

The program began with a short video on the march from Selma to Montgomery. The march for voting rights was orchestrated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in 1965. 

Mayor Bell was young during this time, but he revealed that his class was responsible for clean-up at one of the camping sites where the marchers stopped to rest. 

“We impacted the world,” said Bell. 

Mayor Bell has made history himself. He was the first African American President of the Birmingham City Council. During his time on the city council, Bell pushed for more minority participation in city contracts.

Bell also was part of Americans for South Africa, which put economic pressure on apartheid areas by refusing to do business with them. 

With his work, Bell was able to meet Nelson Mandela after the latter’s release from prison. 

“He said the one thing that gave him hope while he was in prison was for 26 years on Robben Island was that if change could come to Birmingham  in the American South, than change could come to South Africa,” said Mayor Bell. 

Bell credits his drive to get an education and succeed to his father’s insistance that he learn how to lay bricks. 

After the program, Bell answered questions from the audience. Councilwoman Cynthia Toles and Councilman Thomas Worthy asked how the council could revitilize areas of Gadsden. Bell replied that education and instilling a pride of ownership could combat the problems the council has in trying to improve the city. GSCC President Martha Lavandar asked how the college could help prepare students for university, to which Bell gave ideas on how to become more involved with students in elementary and middle schools. 

After the program, Mayor Bell took photographs with attendees.

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