This past Friday, June 11, 2021, the Pulitzer Prize was awarded in a special citation to the young woman, Darnella Frazier, for her recording of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The citation was awarded to the teenager “for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice,” according to the Pulitzer Prize Board.
Previous special citations have also been awarded to Ida B. Wells, Duke Ellington, and Aretha Franklin.
A monetary prize, consisting of $15,000, was awarded along with the well-sought-after award for journalistic efforts typically awarded to above and beyond reporting.
At the time of Floyd’s murder, on May 25, 2020, by then police officer Derek Chauvin, Frazier was “just” a 17-year-old girl visiting a store on Memorial Day with her 9-year-old cousin. She witnessed Chauvin and several other officers restraining Floyd on the ground. She pulled out her cellphone and recorded the incident while she and other bystanders pled with the officers to get off Floyd as he repeatedly stated that he could not breathe.
Frazier’s video went viral, bringing the much deserved and necessary attention to Floyd’s brutal murder. The video propelled thousands of protests against police brutality across the nation and the world.
Frazier noted in a statement on her Facebook page last month, on the anniversary of Floyd’s death, “It’s a little easier now, but I’m not who I used to be. A part of my childhood was taken from me.” In her testimony at the trial against Chauvin, she said, “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles… That could’ve been one of them.”
In response to the praise for her courage, Frazier wrote, “A lot of people call me a hero even though I don’t see myself as one. I was just in the right place at the right time. Behind this smile, behind these awards, behind the publicity, I’m a girl trying to heal from something I am reminded of every day.”