Rachael Kirkconnell won Matt James' season of "The Bachelor."
But after photos of Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party emerged, they broke up.
In May, they confirmed they're back together, and they have since made their Instagram debut.
October 2020: Matt James and Rachael Kirkconnell met on night one of "The Bachelor" season 25. James was the first Black Bachelor in the series' history.
James was originally supposed to be a contestant on Clare Crawley's season, but he was chosen as a "Bachelor" star last summer as the franchise faced a racial reckoning.
While Kirkconnell didn't receive the coveted first impression rose — that went to Abigail Heringer — she did make a strong connection with James on night one. Notably, she was the contestant who cried when James asked all of the women to pray with him.
October 2020: Kirkconnell got one of the first one-on-one dates, and the pair revealed they were falling in love with each other.
During the date, which is commonly known as the "Pretty Woman" date, James took Kirkconnell on a shopping spree, and she got her very own pair of Louboutins.
"I really am already completely falling in love with you. And I want to walk out of here with you, and I want to start my life with you. And I hope that will happen. But the scary part about it is I just don't know if that's going to be the outcome," she told him during the date.
"Can I share something with you?" Matt asked. "You're not crazy, because I feel the same way. Rachael, I'm falling in love with you too. And it is scary to say, but when I'm with you, it just feels right," he replied.
She secured a rose and was safe for another week.
November 2020: James told Kirkconnell he loved her during Fantasy Suites.
James told Kirkconnell that he loved her during Fantasy Suites, typically considered a bad move, since it can tip off viewers that someone is a front-runner, or it could cause problems down the line with another woman.
"Where I'm at with you is, I've fallen in love with you," he told Kirkconnell after the two went skydiving.
She responded: "I'm head over heels for you. I'm completely in love with you."
November 2020: Kirkconnell was James' winner, but he didn't propose. They left the season together.
During the season, James wasn't sure if he was ready to propose, and after conversations with his mother and father, he decided he just wanted to date Kirkconnell and see what their future held.
Kirkconnell, for her part, seemed fine with this decision, and the two left the show as a couple.
January 2021: The season began airing, and rumors about Kirkconnell started making the rounds on TikTok.
Once the season began airing, it became clear that Kirkconnell was a major frontrunner.
However, at the same time, in a viral TikTok, a woman accused Kirkconnell of bullying one of her classmates in high school for dating Black men. Another TikTok accused Kirkconnell of liking racist and controversial posts on Instagram.
At the start of February, James issued a statement defending Kirkconnell.
"I have not spoken to anybody since the show ended, but I would say that you have to be really careful about what you are doing on social media," James told Entertainment Tonight.
"Rumors are dark and nasty and can ruin people's lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully she will have her time to speak on that," he added.
February 2021: Photos showing Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party in college resurfaced. Host Chris Harrison took it upon himself to defend her.
On February 4, just a few days after James defended her, photos of Kirkconnell at a plantation-themed party in 2018 appeared on Twitter. Her cousin told The Sun the pictures were real and "hard to defend."
Harrison went on "Extra" to speak about the controversy with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette, and asked that people show Kirkconnell "grace." This stirred up its own controversy.
Kirkconnell then posted her own statement on Instagram, apologizing for the photos.
"While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address. I hear you, and I'm here to say I was wrong," it said.
"My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not OK or acceptable in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist," it added.
While James didn't directly comment on Kirkconnell, he did support Lindsay on Instagram. "Your advocacy of BIPOC people in the franchise is invaluable, I stand with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability," he said.
February 2021: Kirkconnell asked people to stop defending her on Instagram.
She posted a lengthy video on Instagram asking people to stop telling her she did nothing wrong.
"If you really want to support me, then encourage me to do better and encourage those around you to do better to accept change and allow others to learn and grow because we need to work together on this if anything is going to change," she said.
March 2021: During "After the Final Rose," James and Kirkconnell revealed they had broken up.
After viewers watched the two ride off into the sunset during the episode, they reunited during "After the Final Rose." They spoke about their break-up, with James explaining that he couldn't do the work for Kirkconnell, and that she needed to educate herself more before they could be together.
Kirkconnell was adamant that James was the love of her life, and she was hopeful for a reconciliation in the future.
April 2021: The two were spotted together in New York City.
A Deuxmoi tipster spotted the two together in Brooklyn, while Kirkconnell was also photographed in James' NYC neighborhood. Reality Steve added to the speculation, tweeting that the two "aren't over."
A source told Page Six they also saw Kirkconnell letting herself into James' apartment.
April 2021: At the same time, another woman claimed James was trying to date her, as well.
In an interview with Reality Steve, Grace Amerling said that, while James and Kirkconnell were reportedly seeing each other again, he had also been trying to see her.
"It just didn't sit right with me. I just felt like Rachael was so in love with him and for him to be trying to contact me and hang out with me — someone he's had past romantic relationships with — two days prior in Miami … I felt like I had to say something for Rachael's sake," she told the blogger.
April 2021: James and Kirkconnell were spotted together again in California.
On April 25, after the drama between James and Amerling, the two were once again spotted together, this time in Santa Monica, California, by TMZ.
April 2021: Three days later, James told People he was focusing on a relationship with Kirkconnell.
"I've seen Rachael a handful of times," James told People on April 28. "I'm not pursuing any relationships right now outside of that. I said I was going to focus on my relationship with her and that means focusing on it," he added.
May 2021: They were spotted together again in New York City, this time engaging in PDA.
TMZ obtained pictures of the couple walking around the city on May 4. They were holding hands and James had his arm around Kirkconnell. They also got matching manicures and pedicures.
May 2021: They separately confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that they've gotten back together.
On May 5, in James' first real profile post-"Bachelor" in the Wall Street Journal, he discussed the reconciliation.
"I think the best way to put it is that we can have critical conversations about being in this relationship and what I need in a partner — especially if that woman isn't Black — to understand what comes with me and my life and being Black," James said. "I think it's unfair to leave people without the ability to unlearn and be better," he added.
Kirkconnell confirmed to the publication via email that they're back together.
May 2021: James revealed that Kirkconnell gave him an ultimatum before they began dating again.
On the "Pomp" podcast, James shared the circumstances that led to the couple trying again.
"She was like, 'If you're going to make this work, let's do it. But, if you're not going to make it work, I'm going to let you do your own thing,'" said James. "That's really all I needed. It was an ultimatum that I needed. It's been great. It was honestly a commitment that we made to each other that we were going to work on the relationship," he continued.
James added, "There came a point in time where it was evident that my working on the relationship looked different than Rachael's because I wasn't really honoring that commitment that I made to working on the relationship."
May 2021: They made their official social media debut.
On May 28, James posted a photo on Instagram of himself and Kirkconnell at an ABC Food Tours event, a non-profit he co-founded with friend and fellow Bachelor Nation member Tyler Cameron.
According to People, Kirkconnell re-posted the photo on her Instagram Story, writing "Today was a good day."
Later that weekend, James, Kirkconnell, Cameron and Cameron's girlfriend Camila Kendra enjoyed a double date in the Hamptons. While James only posted a photo of himself and Cameron to his grid, Kirkconnell commented, "Forever the third wheel."
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