"Ya'll Doug Parker is the real DEAL," Southwest flight attendant JacqueRae Hill wrote of the American Airlines CEO, who attended her wedding exactly one year after their candid discussion on racism went viral

By Glenn Garner
June 09, 2021 04:01 PM
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Doug Parker, JacqueRae
Credit: Doug Parker/Instagram

A Black flight attendant made a friend for life in a white airline CEO after their viral chance meeting changed both their lives forever.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker recently attended the Memorial Day wedding of Southwest Airlines flight attendant JacqueRae Hill, exactly one year after they shared a life-changing conversation over the police killing of George Floyd and racism in the United States.

Hill, who tied the knot with now-husband Rashard Sullivan in Dallas, shared a photo of herself in a strapless wedding gown, standing between Parker and her mother Patricia Anderson, who happens to work for American Airlines. "On Today's Episode of 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!!" Hill wrote in the caption.

"Our wedding day May 30th marked exactly one year since our Divinely Ordered meeting on a @SouthwestAir flight (how special is that)," she continued. "Thank you and your family for showing up for so many people but also making time to show up for Me on my special day. You have no idea how much it means to me to know someone that really walks out all of he talks [sic]. Ya'll Doug Parker is the real DEAL. Blessings to you and your amazing family whom I LOVE!!!"

Parker also posted the photo to his Instagram, congratulating the couple and reflecting on the impact Hill has had on him. "She started a courageous conversation with me about race in America and it's one I'll never forget," he wrote. "She continues to be a light that guides me as we work to tear down barriers that create systemic racism."

"Thank you, JacqueRae, for including me, and my family, on your magical day," he continued. "And thank you for the example and inspiration you provide to me and so many others every day. I wish you and Rashard all the best!"

Parker met Hill in May 2020, when he wasn't able to catch a flight on his own airline and ended up seated on the Southwest flight she was working. Hill had a heavy heart in the days following Floyd's death, and when she saw Parker reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, a book she'd been meaning to pick up, she started a conversation with him - not knowing who he was.

Hill recounted the moment in a Facebook post that quickly went viral last year. "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, explaining that their chat was "everything I needed."

"There are so many different ways to effect change in the world," Hill continued. "I stand with anyone who wants to make a difference no matter if it is how I would do it or not."

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Parker echoed the sentiment in an email he sent out to American Airlines employees after his encounter with Hill. "These are trying times," he wrote. "Our people are hurting. I'm not certain what all of the answers are, but I know it involves talking to each other. And listening. And it takes courage and leadership to start the conversation and to stand up for what is right. JacqueRae taught me all that."

The friends have since stayed in touch, having dinner together in September with Hill's then-fiancé Sullivan and Parker's wife, Gwen. Doug wrote on LinkedIn at the time that he and Hill "are connected for life now" and that he is "blessed to have her as a friend."