Boris Johnson’s gift to Joe Biden is a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement that has pushed race relations to the fore in both countries.
Carbis Bay, England:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave U.S. President Joe Biden a framed photograph of a British mural depicting Black 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the British leader’s office said on Thursday.
Biden reciprocated by presenting Johnson, a keen cyclist, with a U.S.-made bicycle and helmet and giving a silk scarf and leather bag made by military wives for his wife Carrie.
Johnson’s gift, presented during a G7 summit which marks Biden’s first official overseas engagement and a chance to reaffirm trans-Atlantic ties, is a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement that has pushed race relations to the fore in both countries.
Douglass escaped slavery in the United States, going on to become an abolitionist leader who toured Britain and Ireland, with which Biden has ancestral ties.
Biden cited Douglass in a 2020 speech on race at a time when the country was confronting questions on contemporary and historical racial injustice sparked by a protest movement that also spread to Britain and prompted a similar outpouring.
The 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.
The black and white mural portrait of Douglass was photographed by dual British-U.S. national Melissa Highton.
U.S. first lady Jill Biden was given a 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.
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