The 2021 winners of the Pulitzer Prizes were announced Friday, awarding the recipients for their excellence in journalism and the arts. This year, the Pulitzer Prize committee also awarded a special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police officers last year.
The special citation was 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.”
Other past recipients of special citations and awards from the Pulitzer committee include the journalist Ida B. Wells in 2020, Bob Dylan in 2008 for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture,” and the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, which lost five colleagues in a mass shooting in 2018.
Frazier was only 17 years old when she used her phone to film George Floyd’s arrest and eventual death in front of a Minneapolis convenience store on May 25, 2020. Her video showed Floyd being detained and restrained by several police officers and eventually handcuffed and held down on the ground. The footage also captured Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s back and neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd would later be pronounced dead.
Frazier’s video of Floyd’s murder went viral, prompting outrage and months of protests in favor of social justice and against police brutality. The video played a crucial role in the televised trial against Chauvin, with the prosecution showing the footage in its entirety and significant amounts of testimony revolving around the evidence seen in the recording.
Frazier herself was called to the stand to testify about what she witnessed. A jury found Chauvin guilty of three charges just one day after closing arguments. The former officer is currently awaiting sentencing.
Last month marked one year since Floyd’s death, and Frazier acknowledged the anniversary in an Instagram post, saying that she is now 18, but “I still hold the weight and trauma of what I witnessed a year ago.”
“A lot of people call me a hero even though I don’t see myself as one,” she wrote. “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.”