A Very Public Confession

Here’s a news brief I came across that really stood out.

In it, the CEO for Continental Airlines admits that his company in the past was racist and refused to hire black pilots. Past racism, in and of itself, is hardly surprising. What is surprising, however, is the candor of Continental’s public confession and the public amends it made to set things right.

It is rare to see anyone anymore who is willing to publicly admit to public sins, mistakes and improprieties — especially among our leaders. In this case, I was very impressed by what Continental and its CEO did, and hope this can be an inspiration for us all.

Our culture needs to re-learn the Biblical principles of confession and repentance. Our leaders especially need to lay pride aside and publicly fess up to public sins that have hurt, harmed or abused others. This is desperately needed not only from our business leaders and politicians, from also from our church leaders on a wide host of issues so that redemption and healing may come to our nation.

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Continental Honors Its First Black Pilot

Continental Airlines has taken a step to recognize Marlon Green, now deceased, as an aviation pioneer whose career was almost snuffed out, completely, because of prejudice. With 3,000 hours of multi-engine time earned in the Air Force, Green sought to become an airline pilot beginning in 1957, but was turned away from all prospects until a 1963 Supreme Court ruling based on Green’s case forced the airlines not to discriminate. That ruling was followed in 1964 by passage of the Civil Rights Act, and in 1965 by what would become Captain Marlon Green’s 14-year career with Continental Airlines.

In a Houston ceremony held Tuesday, Continental rolled out the airline’s latest Boeing 737 and showed Green’s name clearly painted on the aircraft’s nose. In his comments, current Continental Chief Executive Jeff Smisek lamented, “We turned him down for one reason and one reason only — because of the color of his skin.” Smisek added, “… there is part of Continental’s history of which I’m not proud.”

Tuesday, Smisek recognized Captain Green as “a pioneer who was willing to challenge the unacceptable status quo of the time and paved the way for the most qualified applicants to be hired, regardless of the color of their skin.” Green passed away last year, at the age of 80. But his brother was in attendance.

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