LeVar Burton
February 3, 2021

Going Bold

Famed entertainer LeVar Burton to headline Living The Promise campaign celebration

Author: Omar Shamout
February 3, 2021

Actor LeVar Burton will highlight a weekend-long celebration commemorating the completion of UC Riverside’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign.

The event, "Future Perfect: A Conversation with Levar Burton," will be hosted by UCR creative writing professor and author Nalo Hopkinson on Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. The discussion topic will be the power of the imagination and creating a better educated, more inclusive world.

Click here to register for the event.

Living the Promise: The Campaign for UC Riverside was launched in October 2016 and concluded Dec. 31, 2020. On Sept. 10, several months before the close of the campaign, the university surpassed the $300 million goal. More than 66,000 donors made gifts during the campaign, and the total amount raised will be announced at a live virtual event on Feb 20.

Burton’s entertainment career has been as far-reaching as the galaxies he ventured to in his most famous role as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which aired from 1987-1994. He also portrayed La Forge, the chief engineer of the U.S.S. Enterprise, in three “Star Trek” films, and directed episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” and “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

Burton was a sophomore theater student at USC when he was cast as the lead role of Kunta Kinte in the seminal 1977 ABC miniseries “Roots,” which earned him an Emmy nomination. Based on the book “Roots: The Saga of an American Family” by Alex Haley, it follows the life of Kinte, who is sold into slavery in the United States as a young man, and goes on to tell the story of his descendants. Burton also served as host and executive producer of the PBS children’s program “Reading Rainbow.” The show first aired in 1983 and ran for 23 seasons. Among his other endeavors, Burton wrote a children’s book called “The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm” in 2014, and his podcast “LeVar Burton Readsreached No. 5 in overall rankings on iTunes and has over 25 million downloads.

Burton has won 13 Emmy Awards, three NAACP Awards, a Grammy Award for Spoken Word Album, a Peabody Award, The Fred Rogers Award, the Inamori Prize for Ethics in Entertainment, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition of his television achievements.

Nalo Hopkinson

Hopkinson is the author of six novels as well as several collections and anthologies. Most recently, she  penned the “House of Whispers” series for Sandman Universe, the reboot of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed Sandman comics. She has received numerous accolades including the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Award. Hopkinson’s book “Brown Girl in the Ring” was included in a list of “The 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time” published by Time in October, and she was named the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America last December.

In addition to the LeVar Burton conversation, events for the UCR Campaign Celebration Weekend will include a series of “Ted-X style” faculty talks titled “The Seeds of Promise Panel” on Feb. 19; Chancellor Kim Wilcox hosting “Beyond Brilliant: UCR and the Future of Higher Education”;  and a Feb. 19 “socially distanced social,” named “Sunshine in a Glass! A Citrus Mixology Happy Hour,” with hosts and faculty members Rickerby Hinds and Tracy Kahn. 

Events on Feb. 20 include “Celebrating Excellence: A Toast to UCR,” at 6 p.m., and “Winter Soulstice: A Virtual R&B Concert” at 7 p.m. For a full list of events during the Feb. 18-20 UCR Campaign Celebration Weekend, visit https://giving.ucr.edu/celebrate-event-program.

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