Darnella Frazier, the Minneapolis teenager who filmed the police murder of George Floyd on her cellphone, was awarded a Special Citation during the 2021 Pulitzer Prize ceremony on Friday.
The Pulitzer board cited Frazier’s “courageous” video, which “spurred protests against police brutality around the world” for “highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”
The New York Times won two Pulitzer Prizes, for Public Service for the paper’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and for Wesley Morris’ criticism. And BuzzFeed News earned its first-ever Pulitzer Prize won in the international reporting category for a series of stories about the mass detention of Muslims by the Chinese government.
The Associated Press also took home two awards: The wire service’s photography staffers were awarded for Breaking News Photography and Emilio Morenatti was singled out for the Feature Photography honor.
Minneapolis’ Star Tribune won the Pulitzer for Breaking News Reporting for its coverage of Floyd’s murder, while Matt Rocheleau, Vernal Coleman, Laura Crimaldi, Evan Allen and Brendan McCarthy won the Investigative Reporting honor for the Boston Globe’s report on systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers. National Public Radio’s Lisa Hagen, Chris Haxel, Graham Smith and Robert Little won for Audio Reporting on “no compromise” gun rights activists.
Two awards were given out in the Explanatory Reporting category: Ed Yong took it home for The Atlantic’s pandemic coverage and Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts secured it for Reuters’ analysis of how “qualified immunity” shields police who use excessive force from prosecution. The Tampa Bay Times’ Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi were awarded the prize for Local Reporting for its exposé of a powerful and politically connected sheriff.
The prize for National Reporting went to the Marshall Project, AL.com, IndyStar and the Invisible Institute for a report on K-9 police units. The Feature Writing prize was shared by Mitchell Jackson, for a Runners World Story on the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and Nadja Drost for a California Sunday Magazine piece on global migration. The Commentary award went to Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times won for Editorial Writing, but no prize was awarded for Editorial Cartooning.
Louise Erdrich’s “The Night Watchman” won the fiction prize, while Katori Hall won the drama prize for her play “The Hot Wing King.”
Marcia Chatelain won the history prize for “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America;” Les Payne and Tamara Payne’s Malcolm X biography won for biography; and David Zucchino won the nonfiction prize for “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy.” Tania Leon’s “Stride” won for Music, while Natalie Diaz’s “Postcolonial Love Poem” took home the poetry prize.
2021 marked the 105th class of Pulitzer winners and, of course, the award recipients were largely journalists and organizations that did reporting on the coronavirus crisis. The ceremony was held virtually for the second year in a row as a result of the ongoing pandemic, but organizers assured viewers they hope this will be the last time. Notably, the ceremony was postponed from its original April date to give committee members the chance to meet in person to debate the honorees.