Anita Cameron is a disability justice activist who has been involved in social change activism and community organizing for 42 years. In 2017, she began working as Director of Minority Outreach for Not Dead Yet, a Rochester, NY-based, national disability rights group opposed to medical discrimination against disabled people, medical rationing and assisted suicide. She has met with national and state policy makers and written persuasively about opposition to a public policy of assisted suicide from the perspective of communities of color who experience disparities in access to healthcare.
Anita has had 39 years of experience in transportation issues, beginning with her employment in 1984 as a Transit Information Agent with the Chicago Transit Authority, where she first became aware of transportation issues affecting people with disabilities.
Since then, Anita has served on the Regional Transportation District’s Disability Advisory Committee in Denver, Colorado, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) Elderly and Disabled Advisory Committee in Washington, DC. While serving in that capacity, she was appointed Chair of the Bus Subcommittee. Each of these committees advises the transportation authorities on the issues affecting people with disabilities.
Anita served on the Bus Fareness Committee in Rochester, New York. The Bus Fareness Committee sought to bring awareness of issues of concern to people with disabilities, seniors, and people who have low incomes, and create a citizens’ oversight committee to give input to the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA).
Anita also helped to conduct two trainings in Indiana to riders with disabilities to form citizen oversight committees for their transit associations.
Voting rights and accessibility for people with disabilities is a particular passion for Anita, who, as a Black woman, feels that because people died fighting for her right to vote, it is her duty to do so. She has fought for the right of people with disabilities not only to vote, but to serve in their communities. In 1992, she became the first person with disabilities to serve as an election judge for the city and county of Denver. She went on to serve as a poll worker in Washington, DC, while working as a disability vote organizer for the American Association of People with Disabilities. She has trained poll workers and precinct captains in voting access for people with disabilities
From 2004-2006, Anita worked at the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) in Washington, DC, as the DC Metro Disability Vote Organizer, working with the Board of Elections and Ethics to increase voting access and recruited 67 disabled people to serve as poll workers and election judges.
Anita worked as Systems Advocate for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY, from 2006-2010, addressing a broad range of disability rights and access issues with advocates and lawmakers at the local, state and national levels.
In 2004, while in Washington, DC, Anita trained to become a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member. In 2008, she helped to form the first CERT class consisting of people with disabilities in Rochester, New York. After joining Denver CERT in 2011, Anita became the first blind CERT instructor for the State of Colorado, and in 2013, became a CERT Program Manager for the State. Because emergency preparedness for disabled people is her passion, she personally recruited over 30 disabled people to complete CERT training in the state of Colorado.
Anita taught over 250 students and provided training on emergency preparedness to over 200 seniors and people with disabilities living in the community.
Anita has assisted in numerous exercises and real-world incidents with Denver CERT, including serving as a radio communications operator during the Colorado Flood of 2013 and remotely assisting survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in disaster relief in 2017.
Anita has written extensively, for numerous agencies and publications, on emergency and disaster preparedness for people with disabilities, as well as the role and participation of the disability community in emergency management. She has blogged for the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. Anita serves on the Equity Workgroup for the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration (GADRA).
In 2021, Anita wrote CERT based COVID protocols for disability and other groups doing in person actions, protests and rallies.
Since 1986, Anita has volunteered with ADAPT, a national, grassroots disability rights organization. In 37 years of involvement, she has risen to a position of national leadership and has been arrested 140 times for nonviolent civil disobedience fighting for the civil rights of all disabled folks. On March 12, 1990, Anita participated in the historic Capitol Crawl, pushing for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and was one of 104 arrested in the takeover of the Capitol Rotunda. She has been invited to the White House on three occasions, has met three sitting U.S. Presidents and two Vice-Presidents, and helped to organize a national march. In 2019 and 2020, Anita helped organize and hosted legislative reintroduction, and Juneteenth events at the US Capitol, attended by hundreds of disabled activists and members of the US House and Senate. Anita has written a definitive guide to organizing and sustaining vigils and protests that has been distributed to organizations around the world. It has led to successful vigils in Colorado, Tennessee, New York, Washington, DC, California and Trinidad and Tobago.
Anita is an accomplished writer and blogger who has served as a guest columnist for newspapers, magazines and blogs, writing mainly about issues affecting people with disabilities, including issues of discrimination, voting rights, transportation, opposition to assisted suicide and emergency preparedness. She has written for the State of Colorado, Yahoo! Voices, The Mobility Resource and The Huffington Post, and has been published in “Voices of A People’s History of the United States”, by the late, award winning historian, Howard Zinn. The book underwent a tenth anniversary reissue in 2014, which includes Anita’s original article, “And the Steps Came Tumbling Down: ADAPT’s Battle with the American Homebuilders’ Association”. That article appears in the book, “Voices of a People’s History of the United States in the 21st Century”, by Anthony Arnove and Haley Pessin. Anita wrote a short children’s book about her experience at the Capitol Crawl for the My Itty Bitty Bio series. Anita’s work and articles were cited in the 2019 National Council on Disability report on the dangers of assisted suicide as public policy.
Anita is AfroLatina and Choctaw and in the 1990s, worked with the American Indian Movement (AIM) for rights of Indigenous people in the US.
As a Black Disabled Lesbian, Anita has dealt with racisim, sexism, ableism, and homophobia – sometimes combinations of these. She has used her experience of discrimination and her unique intersectional perspective to promote understanding among different groups of disenfranchised people and increase social justice among those fighting for social justice. She worked to get nondiscrimination ordinances for the LGBTQIA2S+ community in Chicago, IL and Denver, CO. She helped organize the first Pride March in Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrote a nondiscrimination policy for a Center for Independent Living in Denver, CO, and served as the national representative for the disability community at the 1993 March on Washington.
In 2017, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network honored Anita with the 2017 Service to the Self Advocacy Movement award for her national advocacy work, and in 2018, Anita received the Lead On award for her work with ADAPT. In 2020, Anita was honored as a Changemaker in the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s exhibit, Rochester Women Changing the World. She also served as an accessibility consultant for the Museum’s Wonders of Water exhibit. Anita is featured in a chapbook series, In This Moment, which focuses on Black activists making change in Rochester. In 2023, Anita received the Corey Rowley National Advocacy Award from the National Council on Independent Living.
Anita’s story and poster are part of the curriculum for One out of Five: Disability History and Pride Project, which was designed by the Washington State Governor’s Office of the Education Ombudsman.
In 2020, Anita began working with disabled members of the film industry, including comedian, Nina G, comedian and actress, Maysoon Zayid, and actor, Danny Woodburn, to celebrate disability by creating award winning shows. She appeared in, and was the Social Media Coordinator, Production Consultant and Storyteller for ADA 30 Lead On: Celebration of Disability Arts, Culture, Education & Pride, which won the “Audience Honor” Shorty Award in the Facebook Live category, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Black Futures Month: Legacy, Present, & Afro-Futurism, and ADA 31: Celebrize! Celebrate and Recognize Non-Apparent Disabilities.
Anita also serves on the National Disability Leadership Alliance’s Steering Committee, as well as its Racism Taskforce, and serves on the Intersectional Committee for Not Dead Yet.
Anita lives in Rochester, New York, with her wife, Lisa, and cats, Nemo and Shadow.