President Obama allowing 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia to pat his head

The photo of President Obama and 5-year-old, Jacob Philadelphia remains on the wall in the West Wing of the White House. In the familiar photo of the president and the young boy, Obama looks as if he is bowing to the young boy as Philadelphia reaches out to touch the president’s hair to see if it feels like his own. Some have argued that the photo is evidence of what the president means to blacks as a symbol and represents “deep reservoir of support” within the African-American community. The New York Times has the story:

For decades at the White House, photographs of the president at work and at play have hung throughout the West Wing, and each print soon gives way to a more recent shot. But one picture of President Obama remains after three years.

In the photo, Mr. Obama looks to be bowing to a sharply dressed 5-year-old black boy, who stands erect beside the Oval Office desk, his arm raised to touch the president’s hair — to see if it feels like his. The image has struck so many White House aides and visitors that by popular demand it stays put while others come and go.

As a candidate and as president, Mr. Obama has avoided discussing race except in rare instances when he seemed to have little choice — responding to the racially incendiary words of his former pastor, for example, or to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida. Some black leaders criticize Mr. Obama for not directly addressing young blacks or proposing policies specifically for them.

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