The 'Is My Hair Just Like Yours'? Obama Photo

The story behind one of the most popular images of the Obama presidency.

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Pete Souza/Official White House photo

Everyone has seen the photo of Barack Obama in the Oval Office with a little boy whose arm is raised to touch the president's hair. It's hung in the White House and is still making the Internet rounds because of what many see as its moving message about the symbolic value of the first African-American presidency.

Today the New York Times tells the story behind the photo:

The boy in the picture is Jacob Philadelphia of Columbia, Md. Three years ago this month, his father, Carlton, a former Marine, was leaving the White House staff after a two-year stint on the National Security Council that began in the Bush administration. As departing staff members often do, Mr. Philadelphia asked for a family photograph with Mr. Obama.

When the pictures were taken and the family was about to leave, Mr. Philadelphia told Mr. Obama that his sons each had a question. In interviews, he and his wife, Roseane, said they did not know what the boys would ask. The White House photographer, Pete Souza, was surprised, too, as the photo’s awkward composition attests: The parents’ heads are cut off; Jacob’s arm obscures his face; and his older brother, Isaac, is blurry.

Jacob spoke first.

“I want to know if my hair is just like yours,” he told Mr. Obama, so quietly that the president asked him to speak again.

Jacob did, and Mr. Obama replied, “Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?” He lowered his head, level with Jacob, who hesitated.

“Touch it, dude!” Mr. Obama said.

As Jacob patted the presidential crown, Mr. Souza snapped.

Read more at the New York Times.

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