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APRIL 2014


Advocate’s Death Big Loss for Many

Pamela Bates, founder of the Disability Committee at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) and a staunch advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), died at age 72, due to complications from a stroke.

A recent Daily News obituary Sharpton as saying, “I was absolutely stunned,” said Sharpton, who said Bates regularly attended Saturday rallies at NAN headquarters on W.145th St. “It’s a big loss and an irreplaceable loss to the disability community and the black community.”

“She had more energy than people in the youth department,” said Sharpton. “She would push me on disability issues. She would say ‘Don’t feel sorry for me,’ and get to the issue.”

She spent more than 20 years as a mixologist earlier in her life until she was afflicted with muscular skeletal athropy and asthma and became a wheelchair

Bates held many notable positions and had strong local affiliations in her distinguished career as a disabilities activist, including as a member of Community Board 10, founder of the 504 North Star Democratic Club, vice president of the 504 Democratic Club, a board member of the Center for Independence of the Disabled New York (CIDNY) and a member of the executive board of Disabled in Action (DIA).

“I went to Albany a few times with Pam to meet our reps,” said DIA President Carr Massi. “She was familiar with pending laws dealing with disabilities. Pam would confront the reps right on and ask are you going to vote yes on this bill? Pam wasn’t intimidated. Pam always promoted Disabled in Action at every opportunity. She will be missed.”

As a member of both the Manhattan Borough President’s Disability Task Force and the Disability Network of New York City,she conducted press conferences and attended hearings concerning disability rights and issues.

She also served on the Paratransit Advisory Committee and the Taxi and Limousine Advisory Commission, two positions which are appointed by the New York City Council. “Pam was a steadfast activist in the disability community and was tireless as a voice for CIDNY (Center for the Disabled, NY) in city and state policy circles,” said Susan Dooha, CIDNY executive director. “She was always ready to go to Albany, on behalf of CIDNY’s board, to
educate lawmakers. She served as a polling-site worker on countless election days and used her experience to fight for voting rights for people with disabilities. She was a member of CIDNY’s board of directors for 10 years and was an influential voice among her peers. Pam was a woman of generosity, warmth and wisdom, and she will be greatly missed.”

But many of her friends and colleagues know her best as a champion of the Americans with Disabilities Act, continuously educating others about the law and always on the lookout for noncompliance in her community.
She was also a strong advocate for students with disabilities and belonged to the CUNY Coalition for Disabled Students and the Queens College Committee for Disabled Students. She is a graduate of Queensborough Community and Queens Colleges.

“I was saddened to learn today of the passing of still another good friend, Pamela Bates,” said Marvin Wasserman, former president of the 504 Democratic Club. “I’ve known Pam for at least 15 years. She had a bright, sunny, endearing personality.”

Bates was born one of five children and lived her entire life in Harlem, N.Y. She is survived by two children – Chaundra Bates Milner and Devon Bates, and a third Benjamin Bates, who predeceased her. She also has many grandchildren. She is also survived
by long-time companions Aurturo Hoyt.

Her family is accepting donations to help with funeral costs. They may be sent to United Funeral Chapels Inc., 2352 8th Ave., New York, N.Y. 10027.


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