thank you, gladys

Gladys Hernblad, 79; advocate for racial understanding

By Sally A. Downey


Gladys Kinard Hernblad, 79, of Northern Liberties, an educator, author, and advocate for interracial understanding, died of heart failure July 27 at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse.

Mrs. Hernblad grew up in Saluda, S.C. Encouraged by her mother, Sadie, she walked six miles each way to high school, and after graduation moved to Philadelphia in search of better educational and employment opportunities.

She met Robert Hernblad at a gathering for young adults at a fellowship house in North Philadelphia. He was white, of Swedish and Irish descent. She was African American. They married in 1966, one year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage in all states.

In 1992, Mrs. Hernblad established the Interracial Families United Network. She told a reporter at the time that she and her husband had experienced discrimination in the early years of their marriage. “We had no support for our situation,” she said. The new network, she said, would support, “all interracial marriages – Asian, Hispanic, and African American.”

Mrs. Hernblad was a major supporter of President Obama, not only for his political views, but because his biracial background mirrored her family’s, which she considered a symbol of improving race relations in America.