Minneapolis Woman on Quest to Become First Black Woman to Solo Kayak Down the Mississippi River


June 3, 2024

Devin Brown, a Minneapolis-based kayaker, has embarked on a historic journey.

Earlier this week, Brown began paddling from the source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca with a goal of reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Completing the feat will make her the first Black woman to solo kayak the entire length of the river, MPRNEWS reports.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Devin Brown (@afrodiskayak)


Reflecting on her journey to this point, Brown shared, “I moved to Minnesota specifically to pursue the Mississippi River. The energy that I experienced when I was here on a business trip in 2012 just lured me in and I wanted to know more.” Despite facing significant challenges, including poverty and long working hours, Brown found stability and renewed her passion for paddling after becoming a massage therapist.

Brown’s commitment extends beyond her personal journey. Last summer, she worked with Mississippi Park Connection to lead BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) tours along the river. “The amount of outdoor experience that people sought out just after that one touchpoint was breathtaking,” she said. Brown’s efforts are part of a broader mission to encourage people of color to explore and connect with the natural world.

She also highlighted the historical trauma that contributes to the disconnect between Black communities and water. “Whether it’s prosperous Black towns turned into lakes or the closure of swimming pools during Jim Crow, a lot of Black people are afraid of water due to those historical events,” she explained. Initiatives in the Twin Cities are working to bridge this gap by offering swim lessons to adults and children of color, promoting safety and confidence in aquatic environments.


Devin Brown’s journey is a point of inspiration for many. She aims to complete the trip in 50 days, potentially setting a new record for solo female paddlers. Her voyage is a powerful reminder of resilience, community support, and the importance of breaking barriers.

Cover photo: Minneapolis Woman on Quest to Become First Black Woman to Solo Kayak Down the Mississippi River/ Credit: Devin Brown

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join the BOTWC newsletter for the latest in news & culture!

By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup
Skip to content