In late May American Airlines CEO Doug Parker had a personal interaction with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant over race that went viral after he flew the airline and was carrying the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism which had been recommended by a board member months earlier, but that he’d put aside distracted by the coronavirus crisis.
Days after George Floyd was killed Parker was on Southwest Airlines because, according to an internal employee communication, he “needed to get to Panama City, FL and all of [American’s] eats were sold out” and he chose not to bump a passenger. This flight attendant noticed the book he was reading. They talked about it. The flight attendant cried. They hugged.
Fast forward nearly four months and Parker shared on LinkedIn that he and his wife had dinner with this flight attendant to continue the conversation,
This weekend, my wife Gwen and I had the pleasure of having dinner with JacqueRae Hill and her fiancée, Rashard Sullivan. JacqueRae is the Southwest flight attendant that took the initiative back in June to talk to me inflight about racism in America.
That conversation was incredibly special to me and JacqueRae’s account of it — and her amazing spirit and energy — have inspired people all over the United States. She and I are connected for life now and I am blessed to have her as a friend. We have another connection, because JacqueRae’s mother, works for American in DCA.
Much of our dinner focused on how the national conversation on race has become more divisive of late after some very important unifying progress this summer. We can’t let that happen as a country. As JacqueRae taught us all so well, having the courage to start conversations on race can change the world. Conversations lead to education, and education leads to action and transformational change.
We are committed to leading such change at American Airlines and nothing will slow us down. Thank you, JacqueRae and Rashard for reinforcing our resolve.
Credit: Doug Parker On LinkedIn
On American Airlines flights Parker always talks to cabin crew in the galley. He’s clearly a good sport as well, whether a flight attendant spills a tray of drinks on him or dressing up and dancing for Halloween. I guess he’s a good sport out of the office too because Parker and his wife didn’t need to have this dinner.