February is Black History Month! Each week, we will celebrate the rich local history and culture of long-time residents in our Place Matters footprint, including 13 historically black neighborhoods in northeast Winston-Salem. By sharing their stories, we hope to shed light on the importance of the fight for equity and strive to create communities where everyone has the resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive.
Ms. Barbara (Bob) Frost
Ms. Barbara (Bob) Frost is a retired nursing assistant who has proudly lived in her home in Bowen Park for over 41 years. Frost is from a large family, the eighth out of 11 children. She’s from Winston-Salem and attended Kimberly Park Elementary School and Paisley. Frost had a child early in life, dropped out of high school to care for her child, but returned to get her GED over 30 years later in 1997. She received her certified nursing assistant certificate before getting her GED. Ms. Frost has three children and one stepchild.
Her pride in her home is evident within the first few minutes of conversations. When asked about how long she lived there, Ms. Frost says, “I would pass by this house, and I would say that’s my house.” She mentioned driving past the home, seeing the owner working on the house, and told the owner, “I want this house.” Eventually, that led to her renting the home, which turned into purchasing the home. Ms. Frost shared that her home was originally a black doctor’s office and pointed out the waiting room, examination area, and more. She beams when discussing what the neighborhood was like many years ago. Ms. Frost shared, “We could sit outside on the porch, children would play outside, people looked out for each other and spoke.” Her late husband, Jack Frost, was a very caring man, and everyone in the neighborhood knew him. Jack was the type of man to take care of everyone. He made plates of food for folks, and though he would occasionally sell them, he mostly gave them away. Their home was lovingly known as Jacks’s Grill on the Hill!
Now, the neighborhood has filled with violence and drugs. When asked by family and friends why she doesn’t move because of the changes, she shares, “I’m proud of my home because I’m in it. I raised my children here. I took care of my mother and husband here. I wanted this home. I’m not leaving.” Though the neighborhood is different, there are still many things that make her proud. She noted how her church, just down the street, brings her and the area a sense of pride and hope. The church has opened its doors to the community, especially during the last two years during Covid. They fed and now continue to provide for many families in need, opened their doors to community agencies who needed a place to work and serve, and more. She has loving neighbors who watch out for her and check-in to make sure she’s ok. The City of Winston-Salem did some minor renovations to her home, and Habitat for Humanity and REACH through Winston-Salem State University (through a partnership with United Way), came in and made areas of her home wheelchair accessible after she had several surgeries.
When asked about her hopes for the future, Ms. Frost says that she wants the entire world to change. She hopes to see less violence and more respect for each other.