Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom, on Thursday gave US president Joe Biden a framed photograph of a British mural as a nod to the ‘Black Lives Matter‘ movement that has pushed race relations to the fore in both countries.
Johnson presented his gift during a G7 summit Biden’s first official overseas engagement meant to normalise the United States’ trans-Atlantic relations with its allies in Europe and Asia after a tumultuous Trump regime.
The British prime minister hailed the newly crowned president of the United States of America as “a big breath of fresh air”; as the countries pledged to work with each other on a host of issues; ranging from coronavirus disease (Covid-19) management to climate change and security.
The British mural presented by Johnson depicts Frederick Douglass; Black 19th-century abolitionist who escaped slavery in the United States; later going on to become an abolitionist leader who toured Britain and Ireland, with which Biden has ancestral ties.
The black-and-white mural is painted on the wall of a residential street corner in Edinburgh; a city where Douglass stayed on his tour; by artist Ross Blair who used the hashtag #blacklivesmatter when first unveiling the piece online in 2020.
Douglass’ mural portrait was photographed by dual British-US national Melissa Highton.
Appreciating the UK prime minister’s gift, Biden reciprocated by presenting Johnson, a keen cyclist, with an American-made bicycle and helmet.
The US president also gave a silk scarf and leather bag made by military wives for Johnson’s wife Carrie.
The UK side, in return, presented US first lady Jill Biden with the first edition copy of ‘The Apple Tree’ – a collection of short stories by 20th-century British author Daphne du Maurier; who lived in Cornwall, the picturesque corner of England that is hosting the G7 summit.
The United Kingdom is keen to collaborate with the United States of America on a host of issues with prime minister Boris Johnson playing down differences with Washington; over the impact of Brexit on the peace in Northern Ireland.
“You know, I’m optimistic,” Reuters quoted him as saying, “There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions.”