2023 Honorary Chairs
LeVar Burton, Honorary Chair
LeVar Burton is an actor, director, producer, and podcaster whose decades-long work includes Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Reading Rainbow. He is the honored recipient of seven NAACP Awards, a Peabody, a Grammy, and 15 Emmys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Inaugural Children’s & Family Emmys.
As a lifelong literacy advocate, Burton has dedicated decades to encouraging children to read. In 2023, Burton premiered his first documentary, The Right to Read, a film that positions the literacy crisis in America as a civil rights issue. The Right to Read was officially selected at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and SXSW Edu.
Burton continues to exercise his passion for storytelling as the award-winning author of Aftermath, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, and A Kids Book About Imagination. He launched his first book club with Fable, a digital book club community, and partnered with Masterclass to share the power of storytelling.
His production company, LeVar Burton Entertainment (LBE), develops projects in the film, television, podcasting, and publishing space to share stories that foster empathy, champion diversity, and build community.
Now in its 12th season, the enormously popular LeVar Burton Reads podcast has over 175 episodes in its catalog, boasting 25 million downloads. LBE’s first Kids & Family podcast, Sound Detectives, will debut on Stitcher in November 2023.
As a pop culture icon, Burton has the unique ability to reach all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups, communicating to a large fan base that is highly engaged and motivated to embrace his message.
Da’Taeveyon Daniels, Youth Honorary Chair
Da’Taeveyon Daniels is a high school senior hailing from the vibrant state of Texas. At the forefront of student advocacy, Da’Taeveyon is a passionate champion of student rights and intellectual freedom. With two Student Advocates for Speech chapters in Texas under his leadership, he embodies unwavering dedication to his cause.
Daniels’s journey into the realm of activism attracted significant attention as a result of his passionate advocacy on the Texas House floor. Adding to his impressive repertoire, Daniels serves as the Partnership Director at Students Engaged in Advancing Texas (SEAT), where his visionary involvement has sparked movements against censorship and redefined the landscape of youth activism in Texas.
Venturing beyond state borders, Daniels’s influence expanded nationally as he took on the role of Southwest Regional Director at the Youth Legislative Action Center (YLAC). He spearheads initiatives that amplify student engagement in legislative processes and pave the way for an empowered generation of informed change-makers throughout the southwestern United States.
Daniels is the youngest acting member of the Advisory Council for the National Coalition Against Censorship. His unique insights into emerging youth trends and issues provide invaluable perspectives to the forefront of our nation’s free speech advocacy. With an unwavering commitment to fostering positive change and a remarkable track record of accomplishments, Daniels stands as a beacon of inspiration and leadership in the realm of youth activism and advocacy.
Events with Da’Taeveyon
Past Honorary Chairs
George M. Johnson, Author Honorary Chair 2022
George M. Johnson (they/them/theirs) is a writer and activist based in New York. They have written on race, gender, sex, and culture for Essence, the Advocate, BuzzFeed News, Teen Vogue, and more than forty other national publications. George has appeared on BuzzFeed’s AM2DM as well as on MSNBC. All Boys Aren’t Blue is their debut, and was an Amazon Best Book of the Year, an Indie Bestseller, a People Magazine Best Book of the Year, and optioned for television by Gabrielle Union. The New York Times called it “an exuberant, unapologetic memoir infused with a deep but cleareyed love for its subjects.
Cameron Samuels, Youth Honorary Chair 2022
Cameron Samuels (they/them/theirs) recently graduated from the Katy Independent School District in Texas, where they organized the FReadom Week initiative to eventually distribute a total of 700+ challenged or banned books. Once the only student to speak at school board meetings, receiving no applause while other speakers called for book banning, Samuels built a student-led movement within months by packing school board meetings and continuously outnumbering the opposition. Decisions were made to keep certain books on shelves, and while currently a student at Brandeis University, Samuels’ efforts to combat censorship across the state of Texas and the nation are ongoing.
Jason Reynolds, Author Honorary Chair 2021
Jason Reynolds is the author of more than a dozen books for young people, including All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely), Ghost, Long Way Down, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, and Stamped (with Ibram X. Kendi). A multiple National Book Award finalist, Reynolds has also received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and several Coretta Scott King Award honors. He is currently serving an extended term as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for the Library of Congress.