Millennium Post

Obama stoops to conquer five-yr-old

It is not everyday that the President of the United States bows before someone and lets the person touch his head to feel the hair texture, but Barack Obama did just that for a five-year-old boy.

Jacob Philadelphia, son of an African-American former marine, asked Obama a question not many would dare or dream of putting to the President of the United States.

'I want to know if my hair is just like yours,' Philadelphia said to Obama, when he accompanied his parents and elder brother to the White House three years ago.

His father Carlton was leaving the White House staff after a two-year stint on the National Security Council.

As departing staff members often did, the former marine had asked for a family photograph with Obama. As the family was about to leave after the pictures were taken, Carlton told Obama his sons each had a question for him.

Jacob, then five years old, asked Obama if the hair on his little head felt the same as the hair on the president's head. Jacob's hair style of closely cropped hair was similar to that of Obama's.

The young boy, dressed smartly in a crisp white shirt, dark trousers and a blue and red stripped tie, was barely audible when he asked the question and Obama asked him to speak again, the New York Times reported.

Jacob did, and Obama replied, 'Why don't you touch it and see for yourself?' Obama then bowed before Jacob, bringing his head level with the hesitant little boy, who stood straight beside Obama's Oval Office desk. 'Touch it, dude!' Obama said. 'So, what do you think?' Obama asked. 'Yes, it does feel the same,' Jacob said, his arm touching the president's hair as his parents and elder brother Isaac looked on.

The simple yet poignant moment was captured by White House photographer Pete Souza. The photograph has hung in the White House for the past three years.

The image struck such a chord with so many White House aides and visitors that, by popular demand, it has stayed put while other photographs have been displayed and taken down.

'As a photographer, you know when you have a unique moment. But I didn't realise the extent to which this one would take on a life of its own,' Souza was quoted by the daily as saying.

'That one became an instant favourite of the staff. I think people are struck by the fact that the president of the United States was willing to bend down and let a little boy feel his head,' he added.

Obama's longtime adviser David Axelrod too has a copy of the photo framed in his Chicago office.

He said of Jacob, 'Really, what he was saying is, 'Gee, you (Obama) are just like me'. And it does not take a big leap to think that child could be thinking, Maybe I could be here someday.'  

'This can be such a cynical business, and then there are moments like that just remind you that it's worth it,' he added.

A copy of the photo hangs in the Philadelphia family's living room with several others taken that day. Carlton, who is currently in Afghanistan for the State Department, said: 'It is important for black children to see a black man as president. You can believe that any position is possible to achieve if you see a black person in it.'  Jacob, now 8, says he indeed does want to be president or 'a test pilot'.
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