Jonathan PalmerContributor (Race & Culture, Comic Books)

Jonathan Palmer is the most avid comic-book reader and superhero expert on the planet . . . or so his friends believe. In reality, he has been collecting and reading for 35 years, has seen nearly every comic-book movie and most cartoons, and is a fount of obscure superhero knowledge that would make Dwayne McDuffie smile.

By day, Jonathan is the executive director for Hallie Q. Brown Community Center Inc., an African American nonprofit social-service agency founded in 1929 as part of the settlement-house movement and open to all, but primarily serving the Summit-University area and St. Paul. When you’re in charge of an organization, you get to set the rules! That led Jonathan to create Project Superhero, an initiative that uses comic books and superheroes to create positive life outcomes for at-risk kids and to promote literacy and civic engagement for all youth. This effort launched comic-book clubs in impacted areas, “create your own superhero” camps, and an annual March campaign, Be A Hero in the Fight Against Hunger, in which Hallie’s Heroes face off against the evil Professor Poverty. It culminates in Hunger-Con, a one-day, convention-style celebration of the efforts of the campaign with artists, cosplay, kids’ activities, and more.

By night, Jonathan patrols the streets of Gotham (or more likely Minneapolis) with MN Superheroes United and is completing his master’s thesis on the use of comic books and superheroes as transformative vehicles in the lives of young African American men. A native of the Washington, D.C., metro area, Jonathan holds a BA in psychology with a minor in theater from Morehouse College, where he also sang in the glee club, and is director of gatherings for the International Clan MacFarlane Society, his family’s Scottish clan. Jonathan holds a wealth of experience in community-based activism, leadership, and volunteer work from his life in Minnesota and across the country. He received the Hennepin County Attorney’s Community Leadership Award from Amy Klobuchar in 2004, and in 1999 a Commendation for Heroism and Bravery from the City of Minneapolis for rescuing a woman from an apartment fire and preventing the building from burning down.

When not fighting the forces of evil, Jonathan lives in North Minneapolis with his wife, Emily; youngest daughter, Siobhan; and two cats, Hank and Lizzie.


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Articles by Jonathan