A year ago, Southwest Airlines flight attendant JacqueRae Sullivan felt overwhelmed by events in the United States following George Floyd’s death.
Protests in her hometown of Dallas, Texas turned violent on the night of May 29 and when she went to social media the next morning, “that didn’t help the situation,” Hill said in a CNN interview. era.
On Friday she went to Dallas Love Field for a flight to Panama City, praying for a ray of hope or understanding. “It’s so difficult with everything that’s going on … You want to be informed, you want to know. But at the same time, my job as a service person is to provide happiness to someone.”
He said as he walked in he prayed, “God, please help me get to work today.”
JacqueRae Hill – as she was known prior to her wedding to Rashard Sullivan this Memorial Day weekend – had a life-changing encounter with passenger Doug Parker on that day’s flight and their story went viral.
A year later, his new friend, the CEO of American Airlines, attended his wedding and met Sullivan and Sullivan’s mother, Patti Anderson, an American Airlines assistant.
Books are magical
Sullivan told CNN last year that when the flight began to climb, he went through his usual security checks, greeting passengers with a greeting and smile his eyes had to offer, because he was wearing a mask.
“I’ve known the book for a while. Michael Eric Dyson wrote the preface. It was on my list, but I haven’t received it yet,” Sullivan said.
After finishing the service, she moved to the rear of the plane, where the man reading the book was sitting alone by a window typing on his phone.
“I got down and said, ‘Hey, how are you? So that book, what’s it like?'”
The two started talking about the book. Sullivan recalls the man, who was White, saying, “It’s our fault. We need to start these conversations.”
As the man spoke these words, Sullivan was overcome with emotion and began to cry. “I know he didn’t know what to do. I know I surprised him. I was embarrassed. I didn’t expect it. It was just a genuine moment for me and we talked for 10 minutes.”
The great revelation
She thanked the man profusely for the incredible conversation, for his interest and care, he weighed hugging him (he did). He asked her name and she introduced herself. Then the man told her his name. “I’m Doug Parker, the CEO of American.”
Parker wrote Sullivan a note before disembarking, expressing his gratitude and pleasure for meeting and talking to her.
JacqueRae S. Hill
“I was grateful if he was a random person who didn’t have the influence. But because of his position in life, the fact that he’s reading that book. He doesn’t have to educate himself. And the fact that he is, I just think it says a lot. on the work we all have to do to try to unite. “
Sullivan waited a day before posting his experience on Facebook. “With all those emotions, I wanted to completely process it. I wanted to make sure the way I wrote it was exactly how I felt.”
When the positive answers came, he realized he had hit a nerve. “I didn’t know it was going to be that big. The response was overwhelming. I cried every day. Happy tears.”
Sullivan’s mother, Patti, as an American Airlines employee, Anderson contacted Doug Parker to express his gratitude for the moment he shared with his daughter on the flight – and for the hug.
Parker responded to Patti Anderson, “[JacqueRae] definitely left an impression on me. Reading a book is one thing: spending time with a kind, strong, suffering young black woman trying to learn from others is another thing. ”
Parker concluded his response by thanking Anderson for thanking him: “I was the one who was blessed by that conversation.”
Courtesy of JacqueRae S. Hill
A lasting friendship
On Instagram this week, Parker thanked the Sullivans for including him and his family on their special day and reflected on their year-long friendship. “She started a brave conversation with me about race in America and it is one I will never forget,” he wrote.
Sullivan stated in the post: “I want to highlight a family that has now become my family’s special friend. The Parkers!”
Brekke Fletcher of CNN contributed to this story.