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Cedar Rapids Historic Markers

1955 photo of Freda Long

From the nineteenth century on, many African American men and women owned and operated barber and beauty shops in Cedar Rapids. Freda’s Beauty Rama & Gift Shop continues in that tradition. Freda (Blakey) Long grew up across the street from this location, wanting to be a nurse. When her family could not afford that training, she saved for beauty school by working at Armstrong’s Department Store. Denied entrance to Cedar Rapids’ Paris Academy because of her race, Long attended Des Moines’ Crescent Beauty School. Returning to Cedar Rapids in 1955, she worked at Thelma Price’s 8th Avenue beauty shop before opening her own business on 9th Street in the late 1960s. She relocated to this 1920s-era building in 1988.

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