Former President Barack Obama is reconnecting with an old friend. On Friday, the 60-year-old politician shared a video on his Instagram page of his reunion with new high school graduate Jacob Philadelphia.
The two first met in 2009, when Jacob was visiting the Oval Office with his dad, former National Security Council staffer Carlton Philadelphia. The then-5-year-old and his older brother spoke with the then-president, and Jacob asked a single question: “Is your hair like mine?”
Obama responded by bending over so Jacob could hold his hand out and feel his hair for himself. “Go ahead, touch it,” Obama said at the time.
Former White House photographer Pete Souza used his impeccable timing to capture the moment with a photo, later named “Hair Like Mine”. The picture quickly became a lasting visual of Obama’s historic presidency and, as Obama stated in his Instagram Stories when he shared the video, “a reminder of the power of seeing yourself in your leaders.”
In the shared video, Obama and Jacob reconnected ahead of the latter’s high school graduation from the International School of Uganda and reflected on the viral moment.
“I think this picture embodied one of the hopes I had when I first started running for office,” Obama said. “I remember telling Michelle and some of my staff, ‘I think that if I were to win, the day that I was sworn into office, young people, particularly African American people, people of colour, outsiders, folks who maybe always didn’t feel like they belonged, they’d look at themselves differently to see a person who looks like them in the Oval Office… now they could see the world open up for them.”
The sentiment was echoed by Jacob, who noted that the photo 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,” he added.
Jacob, who has traveled the world as the son of a State Department employee, told the former president he plans to attend the University of Memphis and study political science after high school.
“I think the White House visit clearly inspired you, I hope,” Obama said.
“Yes, it really has,” Jacob responded.
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