In her eight years in the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama remembers a particularly significant moment for her husband.
A 5-year-old black boy visited the White House, looked up at President Barack Obama, and asked to touch his hair, saying, "Is my hair like yours?"
That moment, captured by White House photographer Pete Souza, shows Obama bowing his head to Jacob Philadelphia:
This is the boy @FLOTUS mentioned in her speech who asked if @POTUS had hair like his. Photo on WH wall for 8 years. pic.twitter.com/yyPdi3JAKN— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) July 26, 2016
The New York Times reconstructed the moment more fully:
"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.
"So, what do you think?" Mr. Obama asked.
"Yes, it does feel the same," Jacob said.
It’s one of the most iconic pictures of Obama’s legacy in the White House, and, as Michelle noted at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, it's indicative of the role models the president and first lady are to younger generations of Americans.
It’s a reminder that representation can be truly powerful for Americans who don’t often see people like themselves in positions of power. Here’s how Michelle Obama explained the moment in her DNC speech:
With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are the most important role model.
Let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls but the children across this country. Kids who say, "I saw you on TV," "I wrote the report on you for school." Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, Is my hair like yours?