Obama reconnects with boy from viral ‘hair like mine’ photo 13 years later
Former President Barack Obama caught up with a young man with whom he had a famously touching encounter at the White House 13 years ago to congratulate him on graduating high school.
A video Obama posted to Twitter on Friday showed him and Jacob Philadelphia reminiscing about the moment in which the then-5-year-old Philadelphia asked the nation’s first black president “Is your hair like mine?” during a visit to the Oval Office in 2009. Obama then leaned down before the young black child and asked if he “wanted to check and see,” after which the boy touched his head.
Describing a photo of that moment taken by the White House photographer, Obama said, “I think this picture embodied one of the hopes that I’d had when I first started running for office.”
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Jacob Philadelphia was five years old when he visited the Oval Office and asked if his hair was like mine. That photo became one of our favorites – a reminder of the power of seeing yourself in your leaders.
Today, he’s graduating from high school! Check out our recent reunion. pic.twitter.com/gB39hFS3Wp
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 27, 2022
The photo was taken when Carlton Philadelphia, a National Security Council staffer, brought his wife and two sons, Isaac and Jacob, to the Oval Office for a departure photo. After the exchange between Obama and Jacob Philadelphia, the photo hung in the halls of the West Wing for several years during the Obama administration.
As he talked remotely with the former president, Jacob Philadelphia said he “kind of” remembered touching Obama’s hair when discussing the moment and described his meeting with Obama as “a pretty big highlight of my life.” He also said it was “very wonderful to see representation” in the U.S. government.
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“If I get to see another black man be at the top, be at that pinnacle, then I want to follow that lead,” Jacob Philadelphia said.
Obama said Jacob Philadelphia is graduating from high school “today” and will continue on to the University of Memphis to study political science. “I couldn’t be more proud of him,” the former president said.