Former President Barack Obama took to Instagram on Friday to congratulate Jacob Philadelphia, the boy who famously touched Obama’s head in an iconic 2009 White House photo, on his high school graduation.
Back in 2009, then five-year-old Jacob Philadelphia and his father, former National Security Council staffer Carlton Philadelphia, visited the White House. During his visit to the Oval Office, the youngster asked a single question to President Barack Obama: “Is your hair like mine?”
Playing cool, as always, the 44th President then bowed over so Jacob could hold his hand outstretched and feel for himself.
“Go ahead, touch it,” Obama said at the time. The moment was captured by former White House photographer Pete Souza and it was later named Hair Like Mine.
“The whole thing happened so quickly that I only have three pictures,” Souza tells PEOPLE. “Click, click, click.”
For Jacob and countless other young children, it’s a moment that revealed the importance of representation.
Fast forward to today, young Jacob is now a young man and graduating from high school. On May 27, Ahead of his big day, Philadelphia got the chance to reflect on the viral moment and reconnect with Obama. From the International School of Uganda, he received a surprise video call from the former president.
“That was a pretty big highlight of my life,” Jacob said of the photo, according to PEOPLE. “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.”
Obama also reflected on the image in the video call shared by the Obama Foundation.
“I think this picture embodied one of the hopes I had when I first started running for office,” Obama said. “Folks who maybe always didn’t feel like they belonged, they’d look at themselves differently.”
Watch their full conversation below.
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