JANUARY 23: “My name is Kunta Kinte!”

1977, nineteen-year-old LeVar Burton appeared as Kunta Kinte in the initial installment of “Roots,” a 12-hour miniseries that dramatized two centuries of African-American struggles.

An unknown actor at the time, Burton delivered what The New York Times in 2012 called a “shattering, dynamic performance.” His Kunta Kinte was an African captured by slavers in 1767 and thrust into forced servitude in America.

A fictional recreation of author Alex Haley’s ancestry, “Roots” proved a cultural phenomenon —only the final episode of “MASH” and the “Who Shot J.R.” episode of “Dallas” drew more viewers than the “Roots” finale.

A student at the University of Southern California when cast for “Roots,” Burton would later appear on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and host “Reading Rainbow” on PBS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s