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Watch: Barack Obama's reunion with boy who touched his hair in memorable 2009 photo

The photo, taken the year Obama became the United States' first African-American president, came to symbolise the power of representation.

May 28, 2022 / 04:11 PM IST
Jacob Philadelphia was five when he shared the iconic moment with Barack Obama. Now, he is preparing to attend college.  (Image credit: Screengrab from video tweeted by @BarackObama)

Jacob Philadelphia was five when he shared the iconic moment with Barack Obama. Now, he is preparing to attend college. (Image credit: Screengrab from video tweeted by @BarackObama)


Barack Obama recently reunited with the boy who touched his hair in a memorable photo from 2009 -- when he became the United States’ first African-American president.

Jacob Philadelphia was five when he met Barack Obama at the White House. He asked Obama if they had identical hair. The president then bent down and asked the child to go ahead and touch his head.

 

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That moment, captured by White House photographer Pete Souza, came to symbolise the power of seeing oneself in a leader.

Philadelphia is now a high school graduate. Obama caught up with him to celebrate the milestone and shared a video of their virtual reunion on his social media accounts.

The boy went on to attend high school in Uganda. His father works with the American embassy in Kampala.

Obama congratulated him and asked how his experience of travelling had been.

“It is kind of difficult but at the end of the day, you get to see a lot of things that a lot of other kids don’t get a chance to,” Philadelphia said in response.

He also told Obama he intended to return to the US to study political science.

Obama and Philadelphia also reflected on their shared memory. The young man said his meeting with Obama was a “pretty big highlight” of his life.

"I was a little shy and I kind of remember touching his hair and him towering over me,” he added. "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.”

Meanwhile, Obama said that for him, the picture with Philadelphia represented the hopes had he had while 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,” Obama said.
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first published: May 28, 2022 04:09 pm
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