Outdoor Afro is “where Black people and nature meet.” Our mission is to celebrate and inspire Black connections and leadership in nature. Our leaders work to connect thousands of people across the country to nature experiences, and together we work to change the face of conservation.
Rue Mapp, founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, grew up in nature but never saw herself represented in natural spaces. Ever the outdoor enthusiast, she found connection with other members of her community in nature and realized the extreme extent of that lack of visual representation. Outdoor Afro began as a blog (2009) as a way to share stories of Black connection to nature, and soon grew to a program that trains outdoor leaders across the country.
The outdoors has historically been a place of violence rather than healing for Black Americans. There is a living generational memory of signs saying “Blacks Not Allowed” at local beaches, wild spaces, and public areas. Our parents and grandparents were legally and historically kept from public spaces. We strive to rewrite the narrative that the outdoors is only big, wild spaces. The pandemic has shown us that we have to expand our idea of what the outdoors is and give people space and opportunity to find their version of the outdoors.
Research shows that you are more comfortable doing something new with someone you share a similar background or experience with, which means that a glaring lack of Black American leadership in the outdoors is a significant barrier to building new connections to this space. This is why Outdoor Afro exists—with more than 100 leaders in 56 cities, we want to build Black leaders who can inspire others to join them outdoors. We continue to build Black leaders daily, through our annual Outdoor Afro Leadership Training, and provide opportunities to join those leaders outdoors in outdoor experiences like hiking, kayaking, camping, and more.
To learn more, visit https://outdoorafro.com