At a Glance

Baratunde Thurston : Biography at a Glance

  • Author of the New York Times best-seller How To Be Black
  • Former Supervising Producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • Former Director of Digital for The Onion
  • Co-founder of Cultivated Wit, makers of Comedy Hack Day
  • Co-creator of the About Race podcast
  • Advisor at Data & Society, a research institute in New York focused on the challenges wrought by data-centric technological development
  • Has appeared on Comedy Central, HBO, NatGeo, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and countless podcasts



Baratunde Thurston is a futurist comedian, writer, and cultural critic who helped re-launch "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," co-founded Cultivated Wit, wrote the New York Times bestseller "How To Be Black," and co-hosts the "About Race" podcast.

Baratunde is a highly sought-after public speaker, television personality, and thought leader who has been part of many noteworthy institutions such as Fast Company, TED, the MIT Media Lab, and The Onion.

Baratunde has an uncanny ability to crack the shell of any uncomfortable topic through a personal, accessible, and intelligent point of view.

With an ancestry that includes a great-grandfather who taught himself to read, a grandmother who was the first black employee at the U.S. Supreme Court building, a computer-programming mother who took over radio stations in the name of the black liberation struggle, and an older sister who teaches yoga at her donation-based studio in Lansing, Michigan, Baratunde has long been taught to question authority and forge his own path. It helps that he was raised in Washington, D.C. under crackhead Mayor Marion Barry.

His creative and inquisitive mind, forged by his mother’s lessons and polished by a philosophy degree from Harvard, have found expression in the pages of Fast Company, the screens of HBO, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, the sound waves of NPR and roughly one bajillion podcasts, including "Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race," which he co-created with Raquel Cepeda and Tanner Colby. He has hosted shows on Discovery's Science Channel, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube, and Pivot TV, where he was co-host of "TakePart Live" with Meghan McCain and Jacob Soboroff. In 2016 he hosted a special three-part PBS series of TED Talks.

Far from simply appearing in media, Baratunde is also helping define its future. In 2006 he co-founded Jack & Jill Politics, a black political blog whose coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been archived by the Library of Congress. From 2007 to 2012, he helped bring one of America's finest journalistic institutions into the future, serving as Director of Digital for The Onion then did something similar as Supervising Producer for digital expansion at "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah." He has been a judge for the Knight Foundation News Challenge, an affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and a director’s fellow at the MIT Media Lab. His book, "How To Be Black," was published by Harper Collins in February 2012 and is a New York Times bestseller.


Baratunde was terrific, start to finish - smart, funny, prepared and professional. We had tons of compliments throughout the night on his hosting.

Integrated Marketing Director, ADWEEK

I just wanted to reach out to say how AMAZING Baratunde was as emcee. I cannot tell you how many people have gushed about him – he was funny, compelling and all-in-all pretty much the best host we could have asked for.

Brooklyn Public Library

Baratunde did a terrific job and tailored his message brilliantly to appeal to the marketing executive audience.

Deloitte Consulting

Our attendees LOVED him. His remarks hit home for us and tied so nicely into the themes we were addressing at the Conference, around engagement, equity, and inclusion.

Theatre Communications Group

Baratunde was AMAZING! He was so well received; his content was wonderful. He tied in so well with our messaging and goal of the event.


Microsoft Awards

He is one of the smartest, most real, most creative people I have met. A++++

GM, AOL Original Video

It. Was. AMAZING! Baratunde was incredible.

Human Impact Solutions

Baratunde's presentation was fantastic. It was engaging, funny, and compelling. The social media teams really loved the content and gave them a lot to think about.

Beam Inc.

Baratunde was beyond our expectations. He was funny, inspiring, and poignant. We couldn’t have been happier.

Chief of Staff, Verna Myers Consulting Group

Baratunde was great. His message was powerful and delivered so well.

University of Virginia
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