LeVar Burton posted a picture of himself wearing a hoodie by the clothing line named Branded, owned and operated by a Black woman. In the picture shared over the weekend, Burton is seen wearing sunglasses, black jeans and a hoodie with the name "Toby" crossed out above the name "Kunta Kinte." In the caption for the post, the actor wrote, "Don't get it twisted!"
The sweatshirt was a nod to Burton's iconic role as Kunta Kinte based on the late Alex Haley's revolutionary 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which was adapted for a television miniseries. In the series, Toby is the name the slave masters wanted to give Kinte as a means to erase his African name.
The hoodie defiantly reclaims the character's original name as a nod to formerly enslaved people who were stripped of their cultural identity during slavery. The design was also seen on the tombstone used in the 1977 Roots television series.
Don’t get it twisted! pic.twitter.com/dECaPNeDZh
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) December 12, 2021
The concept of Kinte was derived from one of Haley's ancestors, a Gambian man born in 1750 who was enslaved and transported to America, where he later died in 1822. Haley remarked that the experiences of Kinte's life were a combination of fact and fiction.
At the beginning of the year, Burton reflected on the opportunity of being cast in the movie with other legendary actors.
“My first day on the set the legendary @IAmCicelyTyson played my mother, Bings Kinte. @DrMayaAngelou played my grandmother, Nyo Boto. I was in the big leagues, fo’ sho! I was in absolute, reverential, awe of the company I found myself in. The sole reason I wasn’t intimidated was the actor’s certainty that I KNEW who the character was. I knew that kid. I was that kid! #KuntaKinte #ROOTS. Thank you, #AlexHaley for fulfilling the fullness of your destiny and sharing your family’s story with all of us,” Burton wrote on Twitter, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Roots celebrated its 44th anniversary this year. The historical series was a hit that brought in high ratings — it was praised with 37 Emmy nominations, winning nine of them. The drama also received a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.