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The Iowa Bystander Publisher Fights for Success

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Time Frame: 1930s-1940s

Elaine Graham Estes, longtime director of the Des Moines Public Library, talks about the publisher of The Iowa Bystander. J.B. Morris was a lawyer and businessman who published the African-American newspaper in the 1920s.

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I think J. B. Morris’ training in the printing world, his interest in freedom of information, his legal background all of those things made him a very dedicated person to continue The Iowa Bystander at almost all cost to himself and his family. That certainly is a commendable activity, because in hard times people need more information and he certainly had created a good deal of rapport and relationship with people in Des Moines who were able to assist him getting through those difficult times. I guess for small businesses, small African-American businesses in particular, there are really not a lot of good times, but the '30s through the '40s, up until the war time, were a struggle to keep the doors open.


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