Bell talked about this plan and his career in city politics, his beginnings as an electrical engineer at IBM and his experience as a black man in a speech to UNC students.
The event, which took place Friday evening in the Student Union, was part of a speaker series put on by Carolina RISE in partnership with student government.
Carolina RISE targets minority students with a goal of creating “representatives increasing student excellence.”
Bell discussed the “rich African-American heritage of Durham as a center of business and culture.” He also spoke about his contributions to the decision to merge the Durham County school system and the city school system in the early 1990s.
Bell said he has turned his focus to creating a better Durham for future generations.
“Neighborhood by neighborhood, year by year,” he said of his plans to improve quality of life in the city by encouraging mixed-use and mixed-income development.
Academic advisor Dexter Robinson helps RISE coordinate its guest speakers.
“The idea is just putting students in a venue ... where folks who they deem successful are tangible, so they can ask questions. If they need a mentor, once they feel like that person is tangible, the likelihood that they ask questions or follow up with them seems a little more real, and their dreams seem a little more realistic,” Robinson said.