Sacramento Park Renamed After Actor LeVar Burton

Actor LeVar Burton will be honored in his hometown of Sacramento, California with the renaming of Richfield Park.The three-time Emmy nominated actor, who grew up in Sacramento, will be honored by the city on Tuesday, June 11. District 8 Councilmember Larry Carr and other councilmembers have invited residents to celebrate LeVar Burton Day to honor the actor, according to a press release.

The event is being held by Councilmember Carr and the City of Sacramento’s Youth, Parks, & Community Enrichment department. There will be an official dedication ceremony of LeVar Burton Park, formerly known as Richfield Park. The park is located in the Meadowview neighborhood and is a few blocks away from where Burton grew up, the press release states.

“Mr. Burton’s career accomplishment shows the possibilities that are open to all residents, no matter where they come from,” Carr said in the statement. “He is an inspiration to our youth, to people of our community and to everyone in Sacramento.”

Burton said in a statement that the city of Sacramento “has imprinted itself on me in the most indelible way.” The actor shared his excitement over the naming of the park on Twitter.

“This one is special. I’m still pinching myself!” Burton wrote on Twitter on June 6. Burton was born in West Germany on February 16, 1957, and was raised in Sacramento, California, with his two sisters, The Sacramento Bee reported. When he was 13-years-old, Burton entered the St. Pius X Seminary with the intention of becoming a priest but enrolled in the School of Dramatic Arts at the University of Southern California after graduating from Christian Brothers High School, according to his biography on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

Burton was cast for the role as Kunta Kinte for Alex Haley’s show based on his family history called Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The miniseries won eight Emmy Awards and earned 43 nominations, according to the Television Academy website. Following the success of the miniseries, Burton starred in the TV movie melodrama Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid and the 1977 film Looking for Mr. Goodbar with Diane Keaton, according to the TCM biography. He also starred in TV movies like the 1978 film One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story and the 1979 film Dummy. The actor was also known for his role as USS Enterprise engineering whiz Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge on the TV show “Star Trek: The Next Generation” from 1987 to 1994. Burton is also remembered for hosting and producing the children’s TV series “Reading Rainbow,” which aired on PBS from 1982 to 2005, according to the TCM biography.

The show, which instilled the interest of reading to children, won more than 250 awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, ten of which were for outstanding series, according to the Reading Rainbow website. The award-winning actor also sat in the director’s seat, directing the golf biopic The Tiger Woods Story, which aired on Showtime in 1998 and the 1999 Disney Channel TV film Smart House, according to his biography on TCM. Burton has also appeared as himself on the popular TV sitcoms “Community” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

In 2016, Burton and other actors were honored in Sacramento’s Walk of Stars, which are star installations that are located at 18th and L streets in the city, The Sacramento Bee previously reported. The Sacramento Walk of Stars is a program that honors people who are from Sacramento to recognize them for their national achievements in entertainment, sports, business, science, or the arts, according to the publication. “Everybody comes from somewhere and I have always been proud of my Sacramento roots,” Burton wrote in a statement to the publication at the time. “From Glen Elder to Broderick to South Sac; from Holy Angels to St. Charles Borromeo to St. Ann’s Elementary, Sacramento has imprinted itself on me in a most indelible way.” The dedication ceremony for LeVar Burton Park will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 11 at 1900 Expedition Way, where Burton will make a guest appearance, according to the press release. There will also be live music and food trucks.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.