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Mississippi River, Kayak, Devin Brown

Source: John_Brueske / Getty

Devin Brown will become the first Black woman to kayak solo down the Mississippi River, which begins at Lake Itasca and extends to the Gulf of Mexico, according to her GoFundMe page.

Per MPR News, Brown, a native of New Jersey, moved to Minnesota with the specific intention of exploring the Mississippi River, drawn by the energy she felt during a business trip to the area in 2012.

From retail worker to history maker.

Initially working in retail, she faced financial struggles and long work hours, which prevented her from pursuing activities like kayaking. Transitioning to a career as a massage therapist provided her stability and gave her more time to study the sport in-depth.

“When I changed careers to being a massage therapist, I found that stability that I needed and was able to grow and prosper from there and that helps me get back on the river and back on track. I also had a kid at that time, so now is the time. I got back on the river during COVID and I haven’t gotten off,” she told MPR News.

In June of 2022, Devin Brown participated in the MR48, a demanding race covering nearly 50 miles along the Mississippi River, according to her GoFundMe. Despite facing the urge to give up around mile 26, Devin drew upon her belief in overcoming life’s obstacles, taking a deep breath, and summoning inner strength to persevere.

Remarkably, she clinched first place in the solo women’s division, completing the race in six hours and 13 minutes, all while navigating her first kayak. Notably, Brown stood out as the sole woman of color in the competition and among a small minority of people of color in the race.

Devin Brown plans to embark on an extraordinary journey, paddling her kayak from the river’s headwaters at Lake Itasca to the illustrious Mile Marker Zero at the Gulf of Mexico, completing 2,350 miles of the mighty Mississippi River. Brown aims to finish the journey within 50 days, potentially setting a new record by completing it five days quicker than the current record holder.

Motivated by her transformative experiences on the river, Brown now aspires to share its profound lessons with her community. She aims to guide others in reconnecting with themselves and unlocking their full potential, much like she has, through the nurturing currents of the Mississippi.

Additionally, she hopes this remarkable voyage will inspire more individuals of color to take up kayaking.

On May 24, a send-off party will be thrown for Brown before she sets out on her long journey down the Mississippi River. 


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