USA TODAY US Edition
Seatmates on flight reunite at wedding
Flight attendant’s guests include American CEO
Remember the Black Southwest Airlines flight attendant who struck up an emotional conversation about race with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker a year ago after noticing a book on white privilege in his seatback pocket?
She got married in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend and Parker was among the guests.
Parker and JacqueRae Hill, now Sullivan, have stayed in touch since the viral meeting, which came against the backdrop of theprotests over the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer. Sullivan’s mother works for American Airlines at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.
Parker posted a photo taken with the bride and her mother, Patti Anderson, on his Instagram page, and Sullivan posted some wedding photos featuring Parker in a Facebook post on Monday under the headline “How it Started vs. How it’s Going.”
“I want to highlight a family that have now become special friends of my family. The Parkers!” Sullivan said in the post.
The 39-year-old flight attendant, who has worked for Southwest for 15 years, called their meeting a year ago “divinely ordered’ and thanked Parker for staying in touch.
“Thank you and your family for showing up for so many people but also making the time to show up for ME on my special day,” Sullivan said in the Facebook post. “You have no idea how much it means to me to know someone that really walks out all of he talk out. Ya’ll Doug Parker is the real DEAL.”
In his Instagram post, Parker thanked Sullivan for the invite and their yearlong friendship.
“She started a courageous conversation with me about race in America and it’s one I’ll never forget,” Parker said. “She continues to be a light that guides me as we work to tear down barriers that create systemic racism.”
Why was Doug Parker flying Southwest Airlines
Parker and Sullivan met on a Southwest Airlines flight to Panama City, Florida, last May. Parker was on the flight because his airline’s flights were sold out.
She was distressed about the racial unrest gripping the country after Floyd’s murder and saw Parker board with the popular book, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo.
She did not recognize him, only that he was “somebody that doesn’t look like me reading a book about how to have a conversation on race.”
About 30 minutes before landing, Hill plopped down in the empty aisle seat in Parker’s row to ask him about the book.
“My ego again assumes she has recognized me, mask and all, and wants to know why I’m flying Southwest,” Parker said in a letter to fellow American executives after the flight but before the meeting went viral a year ago.
“But, no, she has no idea who I am. She is a young, black woman and she points at the book lodged in my seat pocket and asks, ‘How do you like that book?’ I say it’s fantastic and defensively show her how I’m a bit past midway. She says, ‘It’s on my list to read and I saw you bring it onboard and I just wanted to talk to you. …’ And then she started to cry.”