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April 13, 2023

BlackWaters Film

Chad Brown of Soul River Inc and Love is King just released his new film BlackWaters, about five prominent Black men in the outdoor industry heading to Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park to fly fish (with packrafts!). They captured this important trip on film, for reasons all described below.

Story and Photos Provided by Chad Brown

"You might, at first, think that Blackwaters is a film about fishing: the poster image of five serious-looking men, standing midstream with waders and fly rods, evokes the The Right Stuff, transported to the Alaskan Outback. Although a fly fishing trip provides the scaffolding for this tale, what it really is about is an encounter with what it means to be a black man in America.  Blackwaters is at times funny, emotional, and, always, straight from the heart. The scenery has the immensity of a starlit sky. A scene of an angler playing solo sax in a trackless wilderness resonates like the prayerful echo of a church chorus. And, yes, some fish get caught along the way."

- Peter Kaminsky, Outdoors columnist for the New York Times and author of The Catch Of A Lifetime, Moments of Flyfishing Glory

Why We Want To Tell This Story:

Most people reading this have not experienced the roadblocks, bias and intimidation that the BIPOC community faces in expressing their freedom and basic human right to access nature. BlackWaters is a unique film. Rather than focusing on the “Why” and the “What” of social injustice, intimidation and economic inequality, we focused on “Who” those who have been silent casualties of racial and social injustice and economic anxiety. In this film, we focused on five individuals, their unique voices, their personal stories and perspectives. 

BlackWaters is the story of five black boys that have become five proud black men, they come together as friends and outdoor enthusiast at the Gates Of The Arctic Circle National Park. The Gates of the Arctic is the “Where” and it’s the least visited and most remote of all the national parks. It’s as rare as seeing five Black astronauts walking on the moon. It’s a visually stunning stage, environmentally diverse but its remoteness often triggers a sense of disquiet, where ones inner voice becomes audible, exposed for reflection and takes center stage. These five black men carry their past with them, some of it has been kept out of sight, buried but soon to be disturbed, spoken out loud and shared. They also carry fly rods, survival gear, high hope, and nervous expectations that they share with each other and now our audience. BlackWaters is their story. 

About the Film: 

Five prominent Black men in the outdoor industry—Chad Brown, James Edward Mills, Jahmicah Dawes, Nick Brooks, and Alex Bailey—headed to Alaska's Gates of the Arctic National Park to fly fish. They went for the same reasons any group of dudes would head to Alaska: to find an adventure, laughs, and companionship, but the reality is that a group of all-Black men taking this trip makes a statement—and forges an important path for Black youth to follow. This film helps normalize the idea of Black men heading off into the wild and inspire others to do so. 

BlackWaters is a truthful expedition, a human adventure, a vision quest, and a fly fishing adventure that surpasses the color of their own skin, connecting to the fundamentals of natures, the poetry of life, and prosperous joy. Like their indigenous brothers and sisters, they find self-fulfillment and healing in the outdoors. 

At its core BlackWaters is about dual survival between Black boys who cannot make the connection to a Black man in the outdoors due to lack of representation of fearless Black men finding representation in wild spaces to call their own. That connection doesn’t make sense, and may feel foreign or even fake. Even in 2023, these brave Black men are seen as pioneers, breaking ground and standing their ground, waiting for the next generation to follow. Hopefully youth can see something of themselves and be inspired to embark on their own journeys into the outdoors, from local parks, to state parks, to our resplendent national parks, to the Arctic.

Watch the trailer:

Film Premiere

Join Chad and his team in Oregon. Details below.

Date o film: August 26, 2023
Portland, Oregon
Billy Frank Jr Conference Center - 721 NW Ninth Ave Second floor, Portland, OR 97209
1pm - 5pm

Find out more about the film at: 

More about Chad Brown:

Chad Brown is the founder and president of Soul River Inc., a nonprofit organization that focuses on connecting veterans and introducing diverse urban youth of color to the outdoors, nature conservation and growing young leaders into advocacy for our public lands, wildlife and freshwater. Recently, Brown has launched a new nonprofit Love is King that he leads with the mission to dismantle the hate, bigotry, ignorance and racism in the outdoors for BIPOC and all marginalized groups to have the opportunity to roam further and bolder in the outdoors and create wonderful memories for themselves without having to face any aggression.

Want to find out more about each of these men? Check out their info and Instagram pages below.

Chad Brown
Adventure Photographer, Creative / Film Director
Founder Soul River Inc. Love is King
Instagram: @_chadbrown_

James Edward Mills
Journalist - Joy Trip Project
National Geographic Explorer
Instagram: @joytripproject

Jahmicah Dawes
Owner / CEO
Slim Pickings
Instagram: @spoutfitter and @thebuffaloangler

Nick Brooks
Outdoor Gear and Bear
Instagram: @outdoorgearandbeer

Alex Bailey
Founder / Executive Director
Black Outside Inc.
Instagram: @blackoutside_inc