The National Education Association bestowed its annual Friend of Education award on actor LeVar Burton, best known for his roles on Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Burton is also revered for hosting the award-winning PBS children’s show Reading Rainbow, which he revived and expanded as a digital app through a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $5 million.
Unlike last year’s co-winner, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Burton is unlikely to cause ideological dissonance among NEA activists. He denounced the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and recently told an audience of university students to “Rise the f–k up!”
Burton himself is a product of the Catholic schools in Sacramento, California, having once studied for the priesthood. “I was raised a Catholic because my mother was a teacher and knew that the best education available for her children was parochial school,” he told Oprah in a 2012 interview.