One year after their conversation on race relations in America went viral, Southwest flight attendant JacqueRae Sullivan (nee Hill) and American Airlines CEO Doug Parker reunited at her wedding over Memorial Day weekend.
On May 29, 2020, a few days after the death of George Floyd, JacqueRae Hill – who is black – was driving to work in Dallas, Texas, and feeling heavy-hearted about the tragic incident.
"I have been so sad every day and I just want to understand and be understood so we can begin to fix it," she wrote in a Facebook post at the time, according to People.
Onboard the flight that she was then a crewmember on, she noticed a white passenger reading "White Fragility," a book by Robin DiAngelo. When she finished service, Hill sat down next to the passenger and asked him about the book. The two started talking about race relations and the man said, "It's our fault. We have to start these conversations."
Hill was overcome with emotion and started crying. "I know he didn't know what to do," she told CNN last year. "I know I startled him. I was embarrassed. I didn't expect that. It was just a genuine moment for me, and we talked for 10 minutes."
The man introduced himself as Doug Parker, the CEO of American Airlines. (He was onboard Southwest because his own airline's flights onboard that route were sold out, USA Today reported.)
Coincidentally, Hill told him that her mother, Patti Anderson, was a flight attendant with his airline.
Before getting off the plane, Parker wrote a note to Hill, thanking her for the conversation and giving her his email address to stay in touch and continue the conversation.
And stay in touch they did. Over Memorial Day Weekend, which marked exactly one year since they had met, Parker attended Hill's wedding to Rashard Sullivan. Both Parker and (now-)Sullivan posted on Instagram about the reunion.
"She started a courageous conversation with me about race in America and it's one I'll never forget,'' Parker wrote on Instagram. "She continues to be a light that guides me as we work to tear down barriers that create systemic racism.''
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.
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