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Boy in iconic photo with Barack Obama headed to UofM as political science major

In a video posted to Instagram, President Obama interviewed Jacob Philadelphia, the boy who asked to touch the former president's hair in a photo by Pete Souza.
Credit: @barackobama on Instagram

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From being photographed touching the president's hair to wearing a graduation cap over his own, Jacob Philadelphia is one student who has always been ahead of the curve. 

The boy touching Barack Obama's hair in the now-iconic photo by Pete Souza is all grown up. Philadelphia, 18, is moving to Memphis to attend the University of Memphis where he is set to study Political Science. In a video posted to social media the former president caught up with Philadelphia, who famously asked Obama as a 5-year-old, "Is your hair like mine?"

For Obama, the moment embodied the hope he had when he first ran for office, according to a video from the president's instagram account. The clip of the two catching up over a video call is also set to play at Philadelphia's graduation ceremony: 

Philadelphia, who now has his own aspirations of becoming the president, considers the moment captured in time as a “pretty big highlight” of his life.

“It is very wonderful to see representation in the government,” Philadelphia said in the clip. “If I get to see another black man be at the top—be at that pinnacle, then I want to follow that lead.”  

In the video President Obama talks with Philadelphia about traveling—Philadelphia’s father, Carlton Philadelphia, held a position at the National Security Council at the time of the iconic photograph. Soon after, Carlton took a State Department post that eventually led to Jacob attending high school in Uganda.  

“It’s kind of difficult [moving from place to place], but, at the end of the day, we get to see a lot of things that a lot of other kids don’t get to,” Philadelphia said. “We get to talk to people—see their ideals for how they want to change the world and how we want to do it our own way.”

No word yet on if Jacob Philadelphia, no stranger to new sights and experiences, will enjoy Tiger’s games at the soon-to-be renovated Liberty Bowl stadium: 

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