Zelda Lockhart works in her office in NCCU's Farrison-Newton Communications Building
Zelda Lockhart works in her office in NCCU's Farrison-Newton Communications Building

Zelda Lockhart: wearing many hats and teaching writing with an eye toward nature

February 3, 2023

Resilient. Impressive. Expressive. Thoughtful. Intentional. These are just a few words used by N.C. Central University students to describe Zelda Lockhart, an associate professor in the Department of Languages and Literature.

Lockhart is an established mother, grandmother, expressive arts therapist, writer, speaker, teacher and researcher. Lockhart, who specializes in creative writing and African American literature at NCCU, also advises the university’s Ex Umbra literary magazine. She has published six books and is working on a seventh.

According to Lockhart one of her biggest accomplishments has been raising her children as a single Black lesbian mom.

“You can do what whatever you want to do. Unbuckle your brain from society’s norms of what you should and shouldn’t be able to do,” Lockhart said, explaining what she taught her kids while they were growing up.

But Lockhart hasn’t only inspired her own children, she inspires NCCU students.

“Her class is one of those classes that you leave…with a life lesson,” said education senior Taylor Gray. “And you have introspective moments about yourself and the life that you live and the world around you. And that’s profound for me.”

“Dr. Lockhart has a way with students,” added mass communication junior A’brianna Dones. “She is extremely welcoming. She made me feel so seen and heard. I really appreciate her challenging students for the better. I attended her workshop in the library and she is a very articulate being.”

According to Dones, Lockart is “grounded, nurturing, kind and amazing.”

Lockhart not only earns respect and praise from students, her colleagues share their feelings.

“She is impressive in the way she teaches writing. I just really respect her skill because she really works hard,” said mass communication instructor Brett Chambers.

Lockhart said getting outdoors and into nature helps her express and ground herself. And she brings that understanding to her teaching. She describes the classroom as a container, one that can restrict creative thinking.  So she likes to take her students on walks along Durham’s American Tobacco Trail to give them a break.

“She makes me want to spend more time with nature and spend more time with myself through nature,” Gray said.

Chambers sees Lockhart’s connection to nature as well.

“She’s very open about and actively making the effort to be one with nature. She is very intentional and transparent about that, said Chambers.

Lockhart is committed learning as a lifelong project and continues to take courses now, even with a doctorate under her belt. She is currently taking a course in French. “There is always something to learn,” she said.

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