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Obama Advisor Baratunde Thurston Kidscreen Keynote

Obama Advisor Baratunde Thurston Kidscreen Keynote

The Emmy-winning comedy writer, author and Obama White House advisor will give an important presentation about deconstructing racism through the stories we tell.

New York Times bestselling author and famed TED Talk speaker Baratunde Thurston will give a keynote address on February 16, 2021 that promises to be a major highlight of Kidscreen Summit Virtual’s three-week conference program.

Thurston’s presentation will explore how we can all reframe the actions we take to be more inclusive, and the role content producers play in shaping how kids see race on screen.

Baratunde is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show and advised the Obama White House. He wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black, and is the executive producer and host of two podcasts: How To Citizen with Baratunde and We’re Having A Moment, which CNET called “the most important podcast of 2020.” He’s also the creator and host of weekly pandemic show Live On Lockdown. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time”. Right now, the writer, activist and comedian is using his powerful voice to help people understand this revolutionary moment with his unique blend of insight, humor and empathy.

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 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.

Baratunde’s mind, forged by his mother’s lessons and polished by a philosophy degree from Harvard, has found expression in the pages of Fast Company and the New York Times; on screen with HBO, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC and the BBC; and over the airwaves of NPR and podcasts such as Pivot, WTF and Hello, Monday.

He has hosted shows and stories on NatGeo and Discovery’s Science Channel and earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for hosting the Spotify/Mic series Clarify. Baratunde is also an in-demand public speaker and live events host for organizations ranging from Google to criminal justice reform non-profits such as JustLeadershipUSA. 

Far from simply appearing in media, Baratunde has also helped 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, and then did something similar as Supervising Producer for digital expansion at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has served as an advisor to the Data & Society Research Institute and a director’s fellow at the MIT Media Lab. 

Baratunde is a rare leader who sits at the intersection of race, technology and democracy and seamlessly integrates past, present and future.

About The Author

Rebecca Ash

Rebecca is the Editorial Director at Total Licensing Ltd. She can be reached at becky@totallicensing.com

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