Sue Koehler is making an inaugural journey from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She's traveling a relatively short distance, but her story represents how far we've really come. In 1958, Sue was a sophomore at an all-white high school in North Carolina. And she remembers the day Brown versus Board of Education was decided.

Ms. SUE KOEHLER: My mother, who was a very traditional southern lady, born in 1905, she said, well, you know, this is right. This is the right thing. And I went off to school and there was just furor. All these kids were saying, my parents were saying I'll never have to go to school with a - and then the "N" word came out. And I'll just never forget it.

I'm really lucky that I had parents who inspired me to understand that this separate society that I lived in was not quite right. I don't think there are a lot of things in this country that have gotten better in 50 years, but that's one thing that has. And that's just the thing I want to celebrate.

ROBERTS: She'll be celebrating with a long-distance guest. Her sister-in-law is flying in from Germany for the festivities.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.