Darnella Frazier‘s road to recognition is a complicated journey littered with tears, lost innocence, and trauma.
The 18-year-old was thrust into the national spotlight one year ago after she recorded the last moments of George Floyd as he pleaded for his life while Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. At the time Frazier was enjoying the afternoon with her 9-year-old cousin and stopped at the Cup Foods in Minneapolis when she noticed the commotion between the officers and Floyd.
Little did she know the day would change the trajectory of her life.
On Friday, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced Frazier would receive a special citation “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.”
On social media, Frazier’s supporters congratulated her and commented on the brevity of the moment, which has undoubtedly caused Frazier stress, anxiety, and depression.
“And I bet she wishes she never had to witness that. Bittersweet,” one supporter wrote on Twitter. “She should get a medal of bravery too.”
Friday’s citation marks the second prestigious award Frazier received since filming Floyd’s murder. In December she was awarded the 2020 PEN/Berenson Courage Award from Oscar-winning director Spike Lee.
Frazier is one of two Black women to be recognized by the Pulitzer board. Award-winning playwright Katori Hall won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for drama for her off-broadway play “The Hot Wing King.” Hall won critical acclaim for her play “The Mountaintop,” in 2011. Most recently, her play “Pussy Valley,” was adapted into a fan favorite series on Starz.
Commemorating the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death last month Frazier, who rarely speaks publicly, posted a lengthy Facebook message where she assessed her life over the last year, while also paying homage to Floyd whose life was taken as a result of ongoing police brutality.
“It’s a little easier now, but I’m not who I used to be. A part of my childhood was taken from me,” Frazier wrote.
“A lot of people call me a hero even though I don’t see myself as one,” she continued. “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.”
In closing, Frazier called for police reform and accountability while assessing how she is forever linked to Floyd and the movement.
“George Floyd, I can’t express enough how I wish things could have went different, but I want you to know you will always be in my heart,” she wrote. “I’ll always remember this day because of you. May your soul rest in peace. May you rest in the most beautiful roses.”
You can watch the full Pultizer Prize announcements below.