Uplift, Gender, and Scott Joplin's Treemonisha: Nora Douglas Holt

Nora Douglas Holt was a musical pioneer. Being a music composer, music critic, singer, Nora Douglas Holt had many skills. Throughout history, African American women have been disregarded and neglected. However, women like Nora Douglas Holt made a way for African American women as a scholar and in music.


Scott Joplin was famously known for his participation in Ragtime music. Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha was an opera that featured an educated, young, black woman who chose to lead her community. In the text, Uplift, Gender, and Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, the author discussed the many ways in which African American women are disregarded. The author highlights that blackness is a “multi-vectored field informed by other intersectional considerations, such as gender, class, nation, and sexuality.” (p.42) . In Uplift, Gender, and Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, it was mentioned how the works of Black women helped shape discourse, provide important insights, spur activism, improving the status of race, and much more.


The text also discusses how society attempts to define African American womanhood in stereotypical ways. The text mentions how public figures such as Anna Julia Coopper and Ida B. Wells faced discrimination and were disregarded in their fields despite the many significant contributions they made.

Born Lena Douglas in the early 1800s in Kansas City, Missouri, Nora Douglas Holt was a woman of many things. Not only was Nora Douglas Holt the first African American to receive a Master’s degree in music in the United States, she was also a singer, music composer, and music critic. She was known as a free spirited composer of the Harlem Renaissance. She also served as one of the co-founders for the National Association of Negro Musicians. Nora Holt traveled the world, remarried a few times, and lived her life freely. She worked at the Chicago Defender as a music journalist as mentioned in Uplift, Gender, and Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha. During her times in Harlem, she worked as a music critic at the New York Amsterdam News, where she focused on racial uplift. The text, Uplift, Gender, and Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, also mentions how vigorous efforts made by black women in the music field such as herself made impactful contributions as activists, leaders, etc. 

Nora Douglas Holt made history, for herself and for Black women. Although black women endures may challenges and obstacles, Nora Douglas Holt is an example of how black women demonstrate perseverance. Black women such as Nora Douglas Holt continues to make a way for themselves, despite any setbacks. She also focused on uplifting and positively contributing to the Black community. 


 Lumsden, R. (2015). Uplift, gender, and Scott Joplin’s treemonisha. Black Music Research Journal, 35(1), 41-69. 


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