|Publisher||IPJ Media, L.L.C.|
|Editor||Jonathan R. Narcisse (deceased in 2018)|
|Founded||June 8, 1894|
|Headquarters||P.O. Box 98, Des Moines, Iowa 50301 United States|
The Iowa Bystander was an Iowa newspaper targeted toward an African-American audience. It was founded in Des Moines on June 15, 1894, by I.E. Williamson, Billy Colson, and Jack Logan, and it is considered to be the oldest Black newspaper west of the Mississippi. The paper was first called Iowa State Bystander; the term "bystander" given by its editor, Charles Ruff, after a syndicated column "The Bystander's Notes" written by Albion W. Tourgée, a civil rights advocate who wrote for The Daily Inter Ocean. The name was changed to Bystander in 1916 by owner John L. Thompson, who published the paper from 1896-1922. Thompson traveled around the state seeking new subscribers, raising the circulation to 2,000 copies, and changed the paper to a 6-column 8-page layout.
In 1922, Thompson sold the newspaper to Lawrence Jones who, within 2 years, sold the paper to World War I veteran and founder of the National Bar Association, James B. Morris for $1,700. Morris changed the name of the paper to Iowa Bystander. Morris and the paper developed close ties with the NAACP and fought the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in Iowa.
The Iowa Bystander was one of 20 papers represented at the first meeting of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, formed in 1940 by John H. Sengstacke, to support newspapers serving Black communities.