Darnella Frazier, the young Black woman who recorded the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, has recently been honored with the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Special Citations and Awards.
The news was officially broken this past Friday (June 11). As per CBS News’ reporting, “The Board, which annually recognizes important journalism work throughout the country awarded the prestigious citation to Frazier.”
Acknowledging the 18-year-old’s contribution, Pulitzer wrote that it chose to commemorate Frazier “for courageously recording the murder of George Floyd [with] a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”
Frazier was 17 and walking to her local convenience store with a younger cousin when she pulled out her phone and recorded as former police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes — leaving the latter unable to breathe and resulting in his death. For her bravery at that moment, which spurred months of nationwide and global Black Lives Matter protests in addition to providing “key evidence in Chauvin’s murder trial,” Frazier’s Pulitzer award comes months after she received PEN America’s Benenson Courage Award.
On the 1 year anniversary of Floyd’s murder several weeks ago, the teen penned a long message that she later posted to social media. She poignantly wrote at it’s end, “These officers shouldn’t get to decide if someone gets to live or not. It’s time these officers start getting held accountable. Murdering people and abusing your power while doing it is not doing your job. It shouldn’t have to take people actually going through something to understand it’s not ok. It’s called having a heart and understanding right from wrong. George Floyd, I can’t express enough how I wish things could have gone different, but I want you to know you will always be in my heart. I’ll always remember this day because of you. May your soul rest in peace. May you rest in the most beautiful roses. “
Other Black women who have been awarded in Pulitizer’s Special Citations and Awards category in recent years include Ida B. Wells in 2020 “for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching,” and Aretha Franklin in 2019 “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.”
Read more about the momentous impact Frazier’s courage has had here.