Ex Umbra in sunshine, once again


After five years of inactivity, N.C. Central University’s Ex Umbra is scheduled to come back to life as an online publication in late February.


The Ex Umbra, a literary magazine first published in 1965, features student memoirs, poetry, and photographs. Zelda Lockhart, an associate professor in the Department of Language and Literature, is heading up the effort to bring the publication back to life.


“Ex Umbra” derives from Latin. It means “out of the shadows.”


“The main points of the arts are for us as humans to evolve, grow, and connect,” said Lockhart. “We are all passionate about something, and that is by nature’s design.”


Lockhart has assembled a 10 student staff, and she is still recruiting students to participate in the publication. Currently, the staff meets alternate Tuesdays during the 10:40 break. This is not her first time advising the publication, as she first advised it from 2016 to 2018 before taking a position at another university. In her absence, the Ex Umbra went inactive.


The Ex Umbra has struggled to find a reliable funding source for a long time. In 2004 it lost funding, which was restored after national media picked up a Campus Echo story about the funding cut. However, the magazine lost its funding again in 2010. In that case, a Campus Echo story carried a headline playing on the Latin meaning of Ex Umbra: “Ex Umbra back in the shadows.”


When Lockhart returned to NCCU in 2022, she was determined to bring the publication back to life.


“I never knew about Ex Umbra, and I have been here for all four years,” senior student Ashton Drake said. “But I am excited to submit my photography and show off my creativity in a published fashion.”


Abrianna Dones, a public relations student at NCCU, says the resurrection of the Ex Umbra Literary Magazine will allow students like her to practice their proper art form. For her, it is writing and storytelling. “To have a platform through the school where we can publish pieces that are sacred to ourselves and touch a different audience [is important] because you never know what battles people are facing,” Dones said.


With a Google search of “archive nccu ex umbra,” individuals can read several issues of the Ex Umbra from the 1960s through the 1990s. A Word Press site (https://exumbraliterarymagazine.wordpress.com/) has issues from 2014, 2017, and 2018.


Publications over the years covered a wide range of issues and student concerns. For example, in 1969, Brenda Jean Buie discussed abstinence from a third person point of view titled The Prude. In her depiction she described the upbringing of a fictional character and her introduction into womanhood. In a 2017 issue Laphael Williams used marriage to describe a battle with depression and how to escape the feeling in a memoir titled The Horrible Marriage.


The creators of this platform wrote in earlier publications that the Ex Umbra provides the NCCU Community with an artistic and creative outlet, whether it be through writing or healing people.


Ex Umbra accepts submissions from students across campus. If interested submission details are available at https://greensubmissions.com870/xumbra/index.php or contact Zelda Lockhart at [email protected]

Story by Caroline Carter

The Campus Echo is the official student newspaper of N.C. Central University, an HBCU in Durham with about 8,250 students. The Campus Echo is one of the most highly recognized HBCU student newspapers in the nation. In the last 15 years our print and online editions have won over 250 national and regional awards from the Black College Communication Association, the Society for Professional Journalists, the Associated Collegiate Press and the North Carolina College Media Association.

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