UPDATE: Non-Profit Officially Drops LeVar Burton’s Name From Library Plans, AG Investigating
UPDATE: July 7th, 6 a.m. - After being on public notice by the actor, Rev. William Stein and the Broncos Kitchen Foundation have officially withdrawn the name of LeVar Burton from their plans on building a library. The actor's legal team issued a cease and desist notice, and Stein and his organization quickly obliged. The twitter account @LevarBLibrary has also been removed from twitter.
In addition, the Michigan Attorney General has officially opened an investigation into Stein. It focuses mostly on fundraising around the proposed library
ORIGINAL STORY - The Bronco Kitchen Foundation in Kalamazoo does some amazing things. They're a church-based group that partners with Western Michigan to reduce student hunger in the community, and provide food for the needy.
Recently, they began a new project, the LeVar Burton Library, that they hoped would provide literary support, free tutoring, afterschool programs, free meals, a cafeteria, and history exhibits - including a LeVar Burton Hall with "Star Trek Experience."
But there was one problem... they didn't get permission from the celebrity.
A twitter account @LevarBLibrary began to solicit donations for the project this past weekend, posting links to PayPal and GoFundme campaigns that have since been removed. Noticeably, Burton wasn't tagged in any of the posts.
But, he still got wind of the campaigns, and issued the following tweet on Tuesday:
The LeVar Burton Library account then responded after his tweet went out with their own response. The Broncos Kitchen Foundation claims they reached out to Burton multiple times to inquire about using his name.
"To allege that Mr. Burton was never contacted regarding our project is patiently false! We have poof to the contrary. Claiming that this effort is a 'scam is also untrue."
The Broncos Kitchen Foundation is a licensed 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and has documentation to prove they are through the state of Michigan.
But on both accounts - either through the organization, or through Burton himself - no one is saying that permission was given to use his likeness and name for the library. In fact, Rev. William Stein, who is the President and CEO of Broncos Kitchen Foundation, told WWMT News Channel 3 straight up, that they hadn't gotten permission from Burton.
"We are still waiting to hear from Mr. Burton. As a matter of fact, we sent another communique to him via his twitter page, as a matter of fact, with our legal instruments attached... After speaking with Mr. Burton, and/or one of his representatives, if they have determined that they would not be interested in supporting our efforts to honor the man and his legacy, then we will put out a statement that will publicly apologize to Mr. Burton for any inconvenience that this may have caused him."
Seems pretty clear, though, that they already know this is a pretty significant inconvenience for the Reading Rainbow host.
I'm sure, given his past, and his passions, that LeVar Burton is not against what the organization is wanting to do... but maybe... make sure you have his permission next time before naming the Library after him.