The teenager who documented the killing of George Floyd is being honored with a prestigious award for recording the harrowing scene that has driven global protests demanding protection for Black lives.
According to a press release, human rights advocacy organization Pen America announced this week that Darnella Frazier, 17, will receive the 2020 PEN/Benenson Courage Award. Pen America will bestow the award to Frazier in its first ever virtual gala on Dec. 8.
As Blavity previously reported, Floyd was killed by former police officer Derek Chauvin, who suffocated Floyd by placing his knee on his neck on May 25. The 17-year-old documented the almost eight minute-ordeal, often vocalizing her concern for Floyd’s safety through the event.
At the age of 17, Darnella Frazier helped spark a worldwide movement when she recorded & posted video of officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into George Floyd's neck.
Frazier's attorney Seth Cobin joins us with an update on his client & discusses Darnella's ultimate impact. pic.twitter.com/M7L5Wy8wEN
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 15, 2020
Kelley Bass Jackson, a spokesperson for Frazier, told The Star Tribune that her client is "humbled to receive this award and very grateful. And she's grateful for PEN America for thinking of her."
Pen America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the young woman helped spark a wave of anti-racism protests that have reverberated throughout the globe by way of “nothing more than a cell phone” and bravery.
“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. 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. We are proud to recognize her exceptional courage with this award,” Nossel said.
Though she has yet to speak publicly about the events of Floyd’s killing, the day following the incident Frazier, a St. Paul native, told The Tribune that it has become first nature for her to rush in support of people in need given these trying times.
“The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times,” she said.
Jennifer Egan, president of PEN America’s Board of Trustees, said Americans everywhere should feel proud of the sacrifice Frazier made.
“Darnella bore witness to a critical truth at great personal and emotional cost—and our country is in her debt,” Egan said. “We would all do well to emulate Darnella’s grit in standing up to those with a monopoly on force and violence as we push for a stronger democracy, a more equal society, and a more just world.”
In June, Frazier's lawyer said the teen had “no idea” she would document one of the most notorious police killings in the country’s history.
"[She's] just a 17-year-old high school student, with a boyfriend and a job at the mall, who did the right thing," Seth Cobin said.
Earlier this year, a pair of women created a GoFundMe campaign to help support Frazier as she became the subject of online ridicule and trolls since releasing the video. As of today, more than $500,00 in donations has been raised for Frazier.
The teen joins a list of Courage Award honorees that include Black lawyer Anita Hill, student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the surviving staff of the French periodical Charlie Hebdo.