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Darnella Frazier, the Minneapolis teenager who stopped to record the tragic last minute of George Floyd’s life, was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize this past Friday (June 11th). The video was the spark behind a global activist movement denouncing police brutality and systemic racism, and it would be used as evidence in the trial of Derek Chauvin, Floyd’s killer.
Frazier was given a “special citation” by the committee, who in the announcement cited her video as an example of “the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quests for truth and justice.”
Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at the Poynter Institute and a former Pulitzer juror wrote a column that the teenager should receive the award for her recording. “There she was, at 17, sort of witnessing an injustice and she stood there in the face of threats and captured that video,” he said in an interview, ” “It would be hard to select, even from the work of professional journalists over recent years or decades, a 10-minute video that had as profound an impact as this young woman’s video did.” Melvin Carter, the mayor of St. Paul, had expressed the same sentiment and shared his congratulations on Twitter when the announcements were made.
Frazier also was awarded the 2020 PEN/Berenson Courage Award last December from Oscar winning director and filmmaker Spike Lee. Despite the accolades, Frazier still deals with the mental anguish of the experience, as expressed in a statement on Instagram on the anniversary of Floyd’s death: “Behind this smile, behind these awards, behind the publicity, I’m a girl trying to heal from something I am reminded of every day. Everyone talks about the girl who recorded George Floyd‘s death, but to actually be her is a different story.” Through her publicist, the teen offered no comment on the special honor.