Because Of Them We Can
By BOTWC Staff
13 years later, Barack Obama reunited with the kid who touched his hair in the iconic oval office photo.
Recently, Forever President Barack Obama took to social media to share a heartwarming video of a moment he shared with an upcoming graduate named Jacob. In case you’re wondering who that is, in 2009, Jacob visited the White House with his older brother Issac, mom, and his dad, Carlton Philadelphia, a former marine who was serving as a National Security Council staffer. At the time, Jacob was just 5-years-old.
Obama spoke to him via video, opening the call with “Is that Jacob. it’s Barack Obama man, do you remember me?”
“Yea, I remember you telling me your hair was gonna be gray next time,” Jacob replied.
“And I was not lying,” Obama laughed.
Obama went on to explain the chance encounter, recalling how his brother Issac was very serious when meeting him, asking him poignant questions about “weapon systems and the budget process.”
“Clearly he’d been studying,” said Obama.
But right after that, he recalled Jacob staring at him for some time before he asked a question of his own…”Is your hair like mine?”
Obama then replied “Well umm, you wanna check and see,” before leaning down and encouraging him, “go ahead, touch it.”
The iconic moment of Jacob touching Obama’s hair was captured in a photo entitled “Hair Like Mine” by Pete Souza, a former Chief Official White House photographer. The picture would go on to hang in the West Wing for years during Obama’s presidency as a responding symbol of the power of representation.
“I think this picture embodied one of the hopes that I’d had when I first started running for office. I remember telling Michelle and some of my staff, I think that if I were to win, the day I was sworn into office, young people, particularly African American people, people of color, outsiders, folks who maybe didn’t always feel like they belonged, they’d look at themselves differently. To see a person who looked like them in the Oval Office, it would speak to Black kids and Latino kids and gay kids and young girls – how they could see the world open up for them,” said Obama.
Jacob went on to recall his own experience of the moment.
“I was five years old when I met President Obama in the Oval Office. When I was younger, I just thought the President was just my dad’s boss. I didn’t know how powerful he was, but I was slightly intimidated. It was a really big room, the Oval Office. So I was a little shy and I kind of remember touching his hair and him towering over me. That was a pretty big highlight of my life. It is very wonderful to see representation in the government because if I get to see another Black man be at the top, be at that pinnacle, then I want to follow that lead,” said Jacob.
13 years later, Obama was shocked to know that the same little boy is now preparing to graduate from high school. The two conversed for some time, Obama checking up on him. His Dad took a job with the State Department and the family has been traveling, Jacob attending high school in Uganda. While not the normal teen experience, he said he’s grateful for all he’s been able to learn and Jacob has already decided on a college. He currently plans to attend the University of Memphis to study political science.
“I think the White House visit clearly inspired you, I hope,” said Obama.
“Yeah, it really has,” Jacob confirmed.
As they were wrapping up the call, the forever president had just one more thing he couldn’t quite understand about Jacob.
“The thing I’m confused about is how’d you get to be this big man? Is that like kind of a mustache? Some facial hair you’ve got there?” he joked.
“Yeah, I’m growing it,” said Jacob.
Before they ended, Obama congratulated him on his graduation and told him he was so proud of him.
Check out the heartwarming moment below.
Way to leave the internet in shambles, Mr. President! Congratulations, Jacob!
Photo Courtesy of Pete Souza/The White House