Darnella Frazier, 17, the woman who filmed the murder of George Floyd, is this year’s recipient of the Benenson Courage Award from PEN America, a leading literary and human rights organization, the Star-Tribune reported Wednesday.
“With nothing more than a cellphone and sheer guts, Darnella changed the course of history in this country, speaking a bold movement demanding an end to systemic anti-black racism and violence at the hands of police,” PEN CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.
“With remarkable steadiness, Darnella carried out the expressive act of bearing witness, and allowing hundreds of millions around the world to see what she saw,” the statement said. “Without Darnella’s presence of mind and readiness to risk her own safety and well-being, we may never have known the truth about George Floyd’s murder.”
Floyd’s police-custody death on May 25 sparked global protests against police brutality and racial justice.
Frazier came upon the scene and started shooting video with her mobile phone, with the footage showing Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressing his knee on the back of a handcuffed Floyd’s neck as he lay on the ground.
Chauvin, who was fired following the incident, pinned Floyd down for nearly nine minutes while he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”
“The world needed to see what I was seeing,” Frazier said in an interview a day after the incident. “Stuff like this happens in silence too many times.”
The teen has not spoken publicly about her video since, but said through a family representative this week that she was “humbled” and “very grateful” for the award, the outlet reported.
The New York-based PEN awards were founded in 1963, with past recipients including Anita Hill, who testified against the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, and a group of student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following a massacre there.
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