LeVar Burton

Burton in 2013, photo by s_bukley/Bigstock.com

Birth Name: Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr.

Place of Birth: Landstuhl, Kaiserslautern, Rhineland-Palatinate, West Germany (now Germany)

Date of Birth: February 16, 1957

Ethnicity: African-American, smaller amount of English

LeVar Burton is an American actor, director, and television host. He is known for playing Kunta Kinte on Roots and Geordi on Star Trek: The Next Generation and for hosting Reading Rainbow, as well as for his roles in the films Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Dummy, The Hunter (1980), The Midnight Hour, The Supernaturals, Parallel Lives, and Ali (2001).

LeVar was born in Landstuhl, West Germany, to American parents, Erma Gene (Ward), a social worker, administrator, and educator, and Levardis Robert “Lee” Burton, a photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. His parents are/were both African-American, his father from Cherry Valley, Cross, Arkansas, and his mother from Kansas City, Missouri. His father was in the military when he was born. His parents divorced when he was eleven, and LeVar was subsequently raised in Sacramento, California.

LeVar is married to make-up artist Stephanie Cozart-Burton, and has two children, including actress, cosplayer, and host Mica Burton. His nephew, his wife’s sister’s son, is actor Omar Benson Miller.

A DNA test taken by the show Finding Your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2024) stated Levar’s genetic ancestry to consist of:

*80% African
——–*35% Nigeria
——–*15% Ivory Coast & Ghana
——–*15% Cameroon, Congo & Western Bantu Peoples
——–*11% Mali
——–*3% Senegal
——–*1% Southern Bantu Peoples
*20% European
——–*10% England & Northwestern Europe
——–*4% Ireland
——–*3% Sweden & Denmark
——–*3% Wales

His DNA includes ancestry from the Hausa people of Nigeria. LeVar had also believed that he had some Native American ancestry, though none appeared in his DNA results.

Referring to a previous DNA test, he stated:

I was surprised to discover that fully 25 percent of my genetic code, my DNA, comes from Britain and Ireland…

Levar’s paternal grandfather was named Aaron Clayborn Burton (the son of Pearl B. Burton). Aaron was born in Pine Bluff, Jefferson, Arkansas, and was a superintendent at a grammar school. Pearl was the co-founder and principal of a school for African-American children in Osceola, Arkansas, and was also a school superintendent at a junior high. He was the son of Hal Burton, who in 1886 was elected a Representative in the Arkansas General Assembly; though did not run for re-election as voting rights for African-Americans were being curtailed with Jim Crow laws. He was later a merchant, saloon-keeper, and farmer.

LeVar’s paternal grandmother was named Versie Lee Bowdry. Versie was born in Cherry Valley, Cross, Arkansas.

LeVar’s maternal grandfather was named Willis Andrew Ward (the son of Mary Magdeline Sills). Willis was born in Arkansas. Mary Magdaline was the daughter of Mary Jane Braswell/Lee, a black woman who had been born into slavery. While Mary Jane was married to Louis Sills, her daughter Mary Magdeline’s biological father was James Henry Dixon. James was white, and had served with the Junior Reserves of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

LeVar’s maternal grandmother was named Estelle Cain. Estelle was born in Mississippi.

Source: Genealogy of LeVar Burton (focusing on his mother’s side) – https://www.geni.com


Curious about ethnicity

1 Response

  1. Aleksandr says:

    CORRECTION. LeVar Burton is of Nigerian ancestry.

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