Whoopsie: LeVar Burton Finds Out His Ancestor Was a White Confederate Soldier

Brittany M. Hughes | January 17, 2024
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In leftists' little segregated world, in which one race is against one another at every turn, the fact that most of us are genetic mutts is, as Al Gore might put it, an awfully inconvenient truth.

But a truth nonetheless. And it's one that actor LeVar Burton just came face-to-face with when he found out he's actually descended from a white dude. And not just any white dude - a Confederate soldier, no less.


On the latest episode of PBS’ hit series “Finding Your Roots," which aired Tuesday, Burton, whose breakout role was playing Kunta Kinte on the miniseries "Roots" in 1977, was confronted with the fact that his own great-great-great grandfather was actually a white farmer who had an out-of-wedlock baby with a black woman. That baby grew up to be Burton's great-great-grandmother, whom Burton affectionately called "Granny" as a young boy. 

According to the show's researchers who dug up Burton's ancestral history, the white man was one James Henry Dixon, who served in the Confederate Army as a member of the junior reserves. After the war, Dixon worked as a farmer, and was married with a family when he fathered Mary Sills with a black woman who'd been born a slave. Sills was then raised by a different man who, to the best of her knowledge, was her biological father, which is how Burton had understood his history - until now.

“Are you kidding me? Oh my God, oh my God. I did not see this coming,” Burton said, adding, "I’d have fought you five minutes ago if you’d told me that I had a white great-great-grandfather."

Of course, he immediately blamed Dixon for allegedly abusing his power over the black woman with whom he'd had an illegitimate child.

“I often wonder about white men of the period and how they justify to themselves their relations with Black women, especially those in an unbalanced power dynamic. There has to be a powerful disconnect created emotionally and mentally,” the Reading Rainbow star said. “So it’s possible in my mind that he could’ve contemplated it and was conflicted at worst, maybe repentant at best. And then there’s the possibility that he didn’t think about it at all."

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To his credit, show host Henry Louis Gates pointed out that Dixon and his mistress' relationship "could’ve been in love, it could’ve been something terrible. We don’t know."

Either way, Burton said having a white ancestor opens up new doors for him to "talk to white America." 

“There’s some conflict roiling inside of me right now, but also oddly enough I feel a pathway opening up...In this now moment, I believe that as Americans, we need to have this conversation about who we are and how we got here. But yet I see that we are so polarized politically and racially,” he said.

Interesting - I didn't realize it took having the right genealogical creds just to talk to one another. Maybe by nixing that line of thought and burying the idiotic notion that all white people are evil and all blacks are inherently victims, we could get somewhere.

And not rating your own oppression by potentially erroneous assumptions about where you come from would be a good start. 

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