The global literary and human rights organization PEN will in December give its Beneson Courage Award to 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, the young woman who filmed the harrowing last few seconds of the life of George Floyd.
PEN America announced on Tuesday that Frazier will receive the award on December 8 at a virtual gala celebration for her “sheer guts” that “changed the course of history in this country”.
“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,” wrote PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.
Nossel added: “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.”
On her part, Frazier expressed through her family-hired public relations specialist gratitude for her selection saying she was “humbled to receive this award and very grateful”.
The teenager, who was described in June by her lawyer as a “17-year-old girl with a boyfriend and a job at the mall”, has reiterated that she does not want to be the hero of the tale. In May after her video went worldwide, Frazier told Star Tribune in Minnesota, “The world needed to see what I was seeing.”
Frazier’s video inspired a global outrage against the killing of Floyd in the streets on Minnesota. The young woman filmed the whole process of Floyd’s arrest and how he was pinned to the ground at the neck by ex-officer Derek Chauvin’s knee for eight minutes and forty-six seconds.
Floyd fell unconscious after the officer had ignored his cries and died immediately after an EMT team had arrived. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, along with the three other officers with whom he was at the scene.