Seba Johnson is a vegan athlete - Olympian, actress, and writer
Seba Johnson was born in the Frederiksted Clinic in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Her mother is a native of New Hampshire, and her father is a native of Burundi, Africa. During her early years of life, Seba lived in a public housing project in Frederiksted, St Croix with her single mother, who was an artist, missionary, and a poet, and her half sister, who was born with cerebral palsy and is of Mexican descent. At the time, they were the only interracial family in St. Croix public housing. As the years progressed, her mother's missionary and art work allowed Seba and her family the opportunity to travel around the globe. They lived in many different countries with no particular home of their own, exposing Seba to a variety of cultures at a very early age.
At the age of 5, Seba was standing on a ski slope in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and instantly became in awe of the graceful skiers gliding down the slopes, and 9 years later, she was at the start gate of the Winter Olympic Games. Seba took her first ski lesson at the age of 7 in New Hampshire. Soon after, she was skiing in NASTAR Recreational races, and by the time she was in middle school, she was racing with the Heavenly Valley Ski Team in Lake Tahoe, CA/NV. Before she entered High School, the Virgin Islands announced that they would be establishing a Winter Olympic Sports Federation. Due to her ski racing history, Seba qualified to compete for her native Virgin Islands and was granted the honor of carrying the flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 1988 Games.
At the tender age of 14, during the 1988 Olympics, in Calgary, Canada, Seba Johnson became the youngest Alpine Ski Racer in Olympic History. She also became the first African American female to ever ski in the Olympics, a title which Johnson still holds today. The 14 year old placed 28th out of 64 of the world's best in the Women's Giant Slalom- that was no easy feat. Unlike many other Olympic skiers, Seba was faced with many challenges due to the fact that she was not only the youngest ski racer in the Olympic Games but also the first Black female ski racer in history. Many people were not ready for racial barriers to be broken in what was considered to be a "white man's" sport. She received her first death threat only three days after arriving at the Athlete's Olympic Village. Two days before her first Olympic competition, as she was practicing, an unauthorized skier purposely stopped in her path causing her to crash directly into him disrupting her training session.
Four years later, she qualified for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France, competing in the Giant Slalom and Slalom ski events. Even at such a young age, she stood for a cause. As an animal rights advocate, and a vegan since birth, Seba protested the following Winter Olympic Games in 1994 held in Lillehammer, Norway and decided not to participate due to the fact that Norway lifted their moratorium and resumed their practice of commercial hunting for minke whale. She was once disqualified from a World Cup ski race because she refused to wear a ski suit that had a patch of leather sewn into it.
As a result of her accomplishments, Seba Johnson has acquired some very notable admiration. Oscar Award winning actor, Denzel Washington, an avid fan of Seba Johnson, told her, "I watched your career! We talked about you at our dinner tables, churches, schools
... you made all of Black America proud."
Seba retired from skiing after the 1992 Olympic Games and decided to attend college full time. She attended Howard University, became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design. After college, Seba spent time traveling to educate the youth about health and animal/human welfare, and also volunteered her time to teaching inner city youth in Boston how to ski. Seba fell in love with being in front of the camera during her ski career when she filmed commercials for several ski sponsors and is now a member of the Screen Actors Guild pursuing a career in acting and print modeling as she writes her book.
It has always been Seba's passion to inspire people to see beyond their so-called limitations. Her belief in taking nothing in life for granted was tested in March of 2008 when she survived a horrific ski accident resulting in a broken pelvis in 3 places and bed ridden for 3 months. Seba's life experiences are a testament to just how strong the human spirit can be.
"Each breath you take is just one more opportunity to shine your light!" ~ Seba Johnson
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