While the country is still reeling from the shocking death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the young woman who recorded the murder that sparked an international cry for justice is being honored with the prestigious PEN/Benenson Courage Award.
Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who bravely recorded the clear cell phone video will receive the award from PEN America, the esteemed nonprofit organization founded in 1992 that works to defend and celebrate free expression through the advancement of literature and human rights.
The CEO of the organization, Suzanne Nossel made the announcement on Tuesday, where she praised Frazier.
“With nothing more than a cell phone and sheer guts, Darnella changed the course of history in this country, sparking a bold movement demanding an end to systemic anti-Black racism and violence at the hands of police.” She goes on to add, “Without Darnella’s presence of mind and readiness to risk her own safety and wellbeing, we may never have known the truth about George Floyd’s murder. We are proud to recognize her exceptional courage with this award.”
The teenager faced immediate backlash once the video was posted. Many questioned why she did not do more to help Floyd. Others accused her of seeking monetary gain from the footage. Nossel defended Frazier’s actions during an interview with the Associated Press.
“Darnella Frazier took an enormous amount of flak in the wake of releasing the video. People were accusing her of being in it for the money, or for being famous, or were asking why she didn’t intervene. And it was just left this way. We wanted to go back and recognize and elevate this singular act.”
Frazier will share this year’s award with the ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who played a role in exposing Donald Trump’s attempt to recruit Ukraine to investigate his opponent Joe Biden.
The day after Floyd’s murder, Frazier spoke with Minneapolis Star-Tribune about her decision to record the disturbing killing.
“It was like a natural instinct, honestly. The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times.”