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Barack Obama Reunites With Boy From Viral 'Hair Like Mine' Photo

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While visiting the Oval Office with his dad, former National Security Council staffer Carlton Philadelphia in 2009, five-year-old Jacob Philadelphia surprised then President Barack Obama with a single question: "Is your hair like mine?"

Obama, standing by the Oval Office, responded by bowing over, so Jacob could hold his hand outstretched and feel for himself.

"Go ahead, touch it," the then-president said at the time.

A photo of that moment — taken by former White House photographer Pete Souza and later named Hair Like Mine — has become an enduring mark of an historic presidency.

"The whole thing happened so quickly that I only have three pictures," Souza tells PEOPLE. "Click, click, click."

The first photograph is right after Jacob asked his question, Souza says, when Obama was bent down. "And the second is the one that's become the iconic photograph — of Jacob touching the president's head."

The final frame, Souza says, really brought the moment full circle.

"I myself spoke to Jacob earlier this week and reminded him that the last picture was Jacob then touching his own hair," he says.

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For Jacob and countless other young children, it's a moment that demonstrated the importance of representation.

Ahead of his high school graduation from the International School of Uganda on May 27, Jacob got the chance to reflect on that viral moment and to reconnect with the man pictured in the photo with him: the former president, who surprised him with a video call.

"That was a pretty big highlight of my life," Jacob said of the photo. "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, meanwhile, reflected on the image in a video shared by the Obama foundation, recounting a conversation he had when he was thinking about running for president. At the time, Obama told Jacob, he told his wife Michelle Obama and members of his staff that if he were to win the election, his presidency would resonate with millions of young African Americans, who had never seen a Black president prior.

"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."

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Jacob, who has already traveled the world as the son of a State Department employee, told the former president he plans to attend the University of Memphis and study political science after high school.

"I think the White House visit clearly inspired you, I hope," Obama said.

"Yes, it really has," Jacob responded.

Souza echoed those remarks, telling PEOPLE that he's proud to be associated with such an uplifting photo — and with Jacob, who he believes was inspired to study politics after his own interaction with the president.

"It was one of probably a thousand pictures I made that day," Souza says. "But it was one of those small moments that grew in gravity as the years went by."