*Actor, TV and podcast host LeVar Burton rose to fame on the classic 1977 miniseries “Roots,” based on Alex Haley’s novel about slavery. Now, decades later, Burton says the country is still grappling with issues rooted in slavery in an interview with Mo Rocca for CBS SUNDAY MORNING to be broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 28 (9:00 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network.
“Roots” featured an all-star cast, but it was the then-newcomer Burton, who became the face of the miniseries that began with the kidnapping and enslavement of the Mandinka tribesman.
“Slavery still exists today,” says Burton. “Mass incarcerations of young men of color, the relationship between the black community and law enforcement, and all of these social issues are rooted in slavery. And America is still grappling with that.”
The miniseries was watched by more than 100 million viewers and presented Burton with plenty of career opportunities.
“The opportunities immediately post-‘Roots’ were the opportunities of a celebrity,” Burton says, adding he enjoyed the celebrity aspect. “I loved it. I loved it,” he says. “I mean, I had joined the popular culture.”
In 1987, he joined “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He then spent more than 20 years as the host and executive producer of PBS’ “Reading Rainbow” literacy series for children.
“Everything that I have done in the field of literacy,” he says, “is a tribute to my mother. As the son of an English teacher to have been part of an effort to turn kids who know how to read into readers for life, it feels pretty good.”
CBS SUNDAY MORNING is broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:30 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Rand Morrison is the executive producer.