Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded the footage of George Floyd’s death, will be presented the PEN/Benenson Courage Award in December for capturing the video that acted as a catalyst for what has arguably been the largest and most continuous Black Lives Matter movement push that the nation and the world have seen to date.
As The Root has previously reported, Frazier has said she was traumatized by witnessing the death of Floyd on May 25 and has since endured online backlash, harassment, and a tasteless “film review” based on the footage she recorded.
But now, she’s getting the recognition she deserves.
“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,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
The 17-year-old Frazier will share the Courage Award with Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was pushed out by the Trump administration.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, PEN had postponed its annual gala from May 19, six days before Floyd’s death, to Dec. 8, and will host the event online.
“Darnella Frazier took an enormous amount of flak in the wake of releasing the video,” Nossel told The Associated Press. “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.”
Imagine pushing past the horror of being a young, Black teenager witnessing someone’s death and continuing to record arguably the most important video footage to the modern civil rights movement, only to be told you’re doing it all for clout.
In May, Frazier told the Star Tribune that she started recording Floyd’s altercation with police “as soon as I heard him trying to fight for his life.”
“It was like a natural instinct, honestly,” she said. “The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times.”