UK PM Boris Johnson gifts US Prez Joe Biden a mural portrait of Frederick Douglass

On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office announced that the leader has presented US President Joe Biden with a framed photograph of a British mural depicting a 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass had escaped slavery in Maryland, United States and later became a leader in the abolitionist movement. He has been referred to as the father of the civil rights movement. He toured Britain and Ireland, with which the US President has ancestral ties. The gift is a nod to ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement that has pushed race relations to the fore in both nations.

Melissa Highton, a dual British-US national, had photographed the black and white mural portrait of Douglass. The gift was presented during the G7 summit. After Trump’s presidency, this marks Biden’s first official overseas engagement to stabilize the country’s trans-Atlantic relations with its allies in Asia and Europe.

The President reciprocated by gifting Johnson a US-made bicycle and helmet, as he is known to be a keen cyclist. A silk scarf and leather bag made by military wives was presented for his wife Carrie. The UK, in return, was given a first edition copy of ‘The Apple Tree’ – a collection of short stories by 20th century British author Daphne du Maurier.

From the coronavirus pandemic to climate change and security, both countries have vowed to work with each other. The British leader has hailed the new president as ‘a big breath of fresh air’.

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