Historic Photo: Barack Obama calls boy who touched his hair 13 years ago
Created: 05/28/2022, 18:02
By: Bettina Menzel
U.S. President Barack Obama bends down to Jacob Philadelphia, the son of a White House aide, in the Oval Office May 8, 2009 in Washington so the boy can touch his head.
© picture alliance / dpa |
White House/ Pete Souza
An iconic photo was taken in the White House 13 years ago.
Ex-President Barack Obama calls the little boy from back then just in time for his high school graduation – and congratulates him.
Washington, DC - 13 years ago, a young boy visited the then US President in his White House office.
This resulted in an iconic photo entitled "Hair like mine".
The 18-year-old boy's name is Jacob Philadelphia and he will soon have his school-leaving certificate in his pocket.
A reason for Barack Obama to get in touch with Jacob and congratulate him.
Barack Obama calls little boy from historic photo 13 years later
"Is that Jacob?" the former US President asks at the beginning of the phone call and introduces himself, just in case - as if you don't know him.
“This is Barack Obama.
Remember me?” “Yeah, I remember you telling me next time your hair will be gray,” jokes Jacob Philadelphia.
Obama, who turned gray during his presidency, was right with this prediction.
Jacob Philadelphia's father served on the US National Security Council (NSC).
Philadelphia visited the Oval Office in May 2009 with his wife and two sons.
Jacob's older brother was very serious, says Barack Obama.
"He asked me questions about weapons systems and budget procedures, he was obviously prepared," Obama said.
Jacob, on the other hand, had a completely different question.
"Is your hair like mine?" the then five-year-old wanted to know.
He could check that himself, Obama suggested and leaned forward.
White House photographer Pete Souza pressed the shutter button and captured the historic moment for eternity.
He is proud to be associated with such an encouraging photo, the photographer told
Barack Obama and Jacob Philadelphia: Why their photo became iconic
During his visit to the White House, Jacob Philadelphia thought Barack Obama was simply his father's boss.
The then five-year-old probably had no idea that he was the President of the United States.
Nevertheless, he was very shy, according to Jacob.
Today Barack Obama is a role model.
“Seeing another black man at the helm encourages me to follow his lead,” Jacob tells Philadelphia.
After graduating from school, he wants to study political science.
"Your visit to the White House inspired you, I hope!" Obama interjects and Jacob confirms, "Yes, he really did."
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As the first black president, Obama was a beacon of hope for the African American population.
At the time of the photo he had been in office for about four months.
The picture, titled "Hair like mine," hung in the West Wing of the White House for many years.
Because for the president it embodied a special hope when he applied for the presidency.
“I thought […] on the day I was sworn in, young people, especially African American people, including outsiders and people who didn't always feel like they belonged, would see themselves in a different light.
Because they would see a person in the Oval Office who looks just like themselves.” The picture thus symbolizes the power of representation.
Jacob will graduate from high school later this month.
At the end of the conversation, ex-President Obama congratulated the now 18-year-old on his graduation and added: "I'm proud of you!"