KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Famous actor and activist LeVar Burton has taken aim at a Kalamazoo-based nonprofit that is using his name.
Broncos Kitchen Foundation, a hunger relief charity that serves free dinners to those in need in Kalamazoo, established the LeVar Burton Library in June. According to its website, it is a new educational facility that “will provide unique resources, programs, and services for all visitors.” The LeVar Burton Library website and social media accounts prompt users to make financial donations.
Burton is known for his groundbreaking role as Kunta Kinte in “Roots” in the 1970s, then starring in the Star Trek franchise and his work on the kids’ TV program “Reading Rainbow.” His official Twitter account called out the foundation in a tweet on Tuesday, calling it a “scam.”
“This is not me nor is this effort affiliated with me in any way!” the verified Twitter account posted. “This should not be ok. It is clearly a scam! Any help in reporting is truly appreciated.”
Pastor William Stein, the co-founder of Broncos Kitchen and director of the LeVar Burton Library, told News 8 the literacy foundation is a legitimate foundation associated with the Broncos Kitchen.
According to the state’s licensing department, LeVar Burton Library is an assumed name registered to the nonprofit Broncos Kitchen Foundation.
Stein told News 8 his team tried to make contact with Burton about the literacy foundation in his name but never heard back.
“We have reached out to Mr. Burton through his website… We’ve also attempted to contact him through other means… and no, we have not heard from him personally,” Stein told News 8.
Stein said the foundation chose to name the library after Burton to honor him and his work as a literacy advocate.
He said the tweet from Burton’s verified account is not enough to scrap the name. Stein said if the foundation hears directly from Burton or his team of attorneys or representatives asking to change the name, then “we will honor his wishes.”
Stein said the foundation will issue a press release after making contact with Burton.
News 8 reached out to Burton’s team Tuesday afternoon but did not hear back.