Charles Bell '71, MS '73 (Criminal Justice)

Keeper of the House

Charles Bell
Rosa Parks, author Alex Haley, Muhammad Ali, Jane Fonda, Coretta Scott King, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, and the Queen of England.

That list of who’s who in history includes just a few of the people Charles Bell provided security for as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the California legislature from 1974-96.

Sworn in to his position in 1983 by then-Speaker of the House Willie Brown,

Bell credits Brown and Rep. Maxine Waters as key mentors who helped him rise to his position at the Capitol.

“Willie Brown was the first African American speaker of the house, and it was an honor to have his support,” Bell says.

And how exactly did the Dayton, Ohio native decide on Sac State as his destination?

“My friend had a cousin who lived in Sacramento, and the idea of living in the ‘sunshine state’ had enormous appeal,” Bell says. “We arrived in December of 1967, and it rained almost the entire month.”

The sun did eventually shine, just as Bell did on the Sac State campus. He excelled as a student-athlete, making the Dean’s List and leading the Far West football conference in kickoff returns as a running back for the Hornets.

“I came to the campus before football scholarships were available, so I paid for school by working security for the University’s field house,” he says.

And Bell can’t say enough about the role athletics plays for college students.

“Athletics has been an avenue for a lot of young people to improve as both citizens and individuals,” he says.

Lured by the appeal of athletics, Bell dreamed of becoming a football coach one day and toyed with the idea of majoring in physical education. After some hard thinking, however, Bell decided to major in police science, which he felt had the potential for more opportunities in California’s capital city.

“It was a hard decision at the time, but I’m glad I made it now, because I wouldn’t have discovered or achieved my full potential,” he says.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2008 edition of Sac State Magazine.