Freda Carole Blakey Long was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Freda initially wanted to be a nurse, but her parents could not afford to send her to school. She decided instead to become a beautician. After she was denied admission to the Paris Academy in downtown Cedar Rapids due to her race, she worked at Armstrong’s Department store to save money to attend at Crescent Beauty School in Des Moines. She graduated in 1955 and took her first job at Thelma Price’s shop on the 800 block of 8th Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids Iowa. She married barber Robert “Bob” Long and raised three children. Freda is still active at her shop, “Freda’s Beauty Rama and Gift Shop,” on 12th Avenue SE, where she has mentored many beauticians and barbers.
This video is from the oral history project “Civil Rights in Linn County,” conducted in 2015 with the assistance of a grant from the Linn County Historic Preservation Commission.