Gloria Allred: A Hero to Remember During Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is a time where women can learn about their older femi-sisters and inspire their younger ones. March is the month of female empowerment, women-centered education and sisterhood. It is a month during which we emphasize the struggles that our sisters before us went through and we work extra hard to make society a much more fair place. We learn who our heroes are and how we can be like them. I know they say to never meet your heroes, but I have to disagree.

We need more female household names. We also need to highlight female heroes. Women who dedicate their lives to helping and empowering other women need to be remembered. They are just as worthy as any male icon to be remembered. One of these female heroes is none other than Gloria Allred.

Allred is an American lawyer who specializes in sexual assault, rape and abuse cases. You know her clients, and if you don’t, you know her cases. She represented survivors in Bill Cosby’s case, Michael Jackson’s case, President Donald Trump’s case and most recently, R. Kelly’s case. This is how most people know her, but that’s not where her story begins.

Allred’s story begins where many stories do. She was born into a working-class household in the suburbs of a big city. In her case it was Philadelphia. Her dad was a salesman and her mom was a housewife. They didn’t have much, but Allred (whose last name was Bloom at the time) was able to attend the University of Pennsylvania and earned her degree in Education. While there, she fell in love with her first husband and together they had a daughter named Lisa. The couple separated shortly after Lisa’s birth. Allred then proceeded to simultaneously work a full-time job as a high school teacher and earn her master’s degree at New York University. While in school, she became inspired by the civil rights movement but continued to work as a teacher. 

Allred then traveled to California and took teaching jobs there. At this point in her life, she had supported women’s rights but was not yet a notable name. At this point, she was just a quiet activist who cared about her own rights but had other worries in life. She could not dedicate her life to women’s rights… yet.

Everything changed for her on a trip to Acapulco, Mexico when she was raped at gunpoint. At a time where she probably thought her situation couldn’t get any worse, she ended up becoming pregnant from the rape.

This all occurred in the year 1966, around seven years before the historic Roe v. Wade case. She had an illegal abortion that lead to excessive bleeding and hospitalization. She recalls being told by a nurse that it was all her own fault because she broke the law and had an abortion.

It was then that everything changed. She had found a mission in her life to help all women. She found her way at the Loyola University School of Law and married William Allred. With her law degree, she quickly gained popularity by covering gender equality cases as well as civil rights cases. She became a powerful, and hated, woman.

She started taking on some national headline cases. Katrina Yeaw against the Boy Scouts, Nicole Brown Simpson’s family, Kelly Fisher, Rachel Uchitel, Charlotte Lewis against Roman Polanski, Beverly Young Nelson against Roy Moore and Jenna Talackova, just to name a few.

I first came to know of Allred about a year ago when my mom and I sat down to watch Netflix together after an exhausting day. Her documentary,"Seeing Allred," popped up on the screen and immediately we were attracted to it. By the end of it, my mom and I were sobbing.

I recommend all women see that documentary. It gave me so much strength and motivation. In fact, it gave me the courage to leave a class in which sexual harassment occurred every day. She inspired me and so many other women with her story—her story of passion and empowerment.

I had the incredible opportunity to meet Allred in a one-on-one interview with CBS12. Meeting my hero, getting to shake her hand and listening to her speak not through a television was priceless. Always meet your heroes.

This Women’s History Month we should all get familiar with our sisters who came before us in the fight for equality. Learning about the triumphs that women like Allred have already gone through can help us understand how to have our own. 

Happy Women’s History Month!