On Friday, this year’s Pulitzer Prizes were announced, which included a special citation for Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed the murder of George Floyd. The Pulitzer Prize Board honored Frazier “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.”
Frazier was 17 when she captured the video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes — a video that has been widely recognized as having played a crucial role in Chauvin’s conviction. “If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth,” Frazier wrote in an Instagram post on the anniversary of Floyd’s death in May.
Frazier’s filming was a heroic act of journalism, but that was not her intention when she captured the video. In her testimony during Chauvin’s trial, she described it as her duty. “I’ve stayed up nights apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, and not saving his life,” she said during the trial.
On social media, reactions to the award were mixed. Some celebrated the recognition, as the Pulitzer Prize is among the highest achievements in journalism. “It’s powerful to see this act recognized for what it is — an act of journalistic truth-telling,” activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham told the 19th. Still, others found the board’s “congratulations” tone-deaf considering the tragedy and injustice that a child had to witness a police murder. “I still hold the weight and trauma of what I witnessed a year ago,” Frazier wrote on Facebook last month. “It changed me. It changed how I viewed life. It made me realize how dangerous it is to be Black in America.”