On Tuesday (Oct 27) PEN America announced they were honoring 17-year-old Darnella Frazier with the 2020 PEN/Beneson Award.
“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. “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.”
On May 25, Frazier recorded Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Floyd at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South as Floyd cried out repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. The video also captures bystanders begging the officers to let Floyd up and once he lost consciousness, to check his pulse.
The video went viral and sparked protests nationwide calling for racial justice and an end to police violence.
“Without Darnella’s presence of mind and readiness to risk her own safety and wellbeing, we may never have known the truth about George Floyd’s murder,” Nossel continued. “We are proud to recognize her exceptional courage with this award.”
Darnella Frazier is set to be awarded the prestigious award at a virtual gala celebration alongside former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on December 8th.
Previous Courage Award honorees include Anita Hill; student activists from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School; the Women’s March; Flint, Michigan contaminated water whistleblowers and the surviving staff of the French publication Charlie Hebdo.