Over the years, actor LeVar Burton has led, for the most part, a peaceful and successful career. Recently, former MSNBC and ESPN host Keith Olbermann brought an end to Burton’s serene demeanor after referencing one of the actor’s most iconic on-screen characters in a botched attempt to slam President Donald J. Trump.
In a now-deleted tweet, Olbermann called out the president for his recent behaviors and unwillingness to professionally go about the elections. “Yes, @realDonaldTrump has always been, will always be, and on the day of his bid for re-election, still is: a whiny little Kunta Kinte,” the media personality wrote. While the sentiments may have been the consensus among many, seeing as the president has already sued multiple states, accusing them of rigging the election in favor of Joe Biden, what Olbermann seemingly messed up at was dragging the 1977 “Roots” character into the mix.
The political commentator received backlash over his comments, as many pointed out that the name could be seen as a slur for recent African immigrants.
Shortly afterward, Burton responded directly to Olbermann on Twitter, but not before changing his profile picture to a photo of himself in his role as the young Kunta in the 1977 miniseries. “Dear @KeithOlbermann, #Kunta is pronounced with a long ‘u’ as in unity, not a short ‘u’ as in cup. Try again! Love, Kunta,” the actor wrote.
LeVar Burton attends the 70th National Book Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on Nov. 20, 2019 in New York. (Photo: Theo Wargo/WireImage)
During an Election Day interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Burton added, “I think the thing I didn’t address [on Twitter] that is also important to note is that at the end of the day, whether he was trying to call Trump a name without using the word or not, he still referred to Kunta as ‘whiny.’ Enslaved people were not ‘whiny.’”
When asked whether he would stick with his new profile photo, the star said, “Probably.” He added, “I’ll know better in five or six hours.”
Olbermann later apologized on Twitter for his remarks. “Just logged back in: I apologize for my previous subtweet of this,” he wrote. “I was using an old 70’s-80’s technique for calling somebody a c-nt without writing/saying c-nt, just using a sound-alike to call Trump a c-nt Deleting previous, largely because this one clarifies the c-nt part.”