Fri, April 23  |  6:00 p.m. (PST)

From Tragedy to Triumph Part V:

"Surviving Jim Crow: The Healing Power of Music"

A man carrying two suitcases walks through the woods

About the Event

The fifth installment of From Tragedy to Triumph tells the story of the systemic violence of the Jim Crow Era (1880–1945) through the imagined portrait of Jack Smith, a fictional character representing the plight of millions of African Americans during this dark chapter of U.S. history. The fictional film tells the story of one man’s life under Jim Crow as he develops a love for jazz to help him survive the racism he experiences. The event will include a discussion and Q&A session with the film’s creators led by USC Thornton professor Ron McCurdy.


RSVP to attend the event on Zoom and participate in the discussion and live Q&A. Viewers can watch the livestream of the event at without RSVP.

Closed captioning will be available in the webinar.

Reading List

Curated by the creative team, the following books, articles, film and television resources offer a starting point to learn more about the history and key themes featured in this event.

Gibson, R. Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois: The problem of negro leadership. (Curriculum Units by Fellows of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute). 1978. Volume II: 20th Century Afro-American Culture, 1-11.

Read more >

Kelley, B. "Right to ride: Streetcar boycotts and African American citizenship in the era of Plessy v. Ferguson." African American Review. 2007. 41(2), 347-356

Sager, D. "Jazz on the edge of change." The New York Times, pp. 1-8. 2019.



Adam Karelin

Aaron Israel Levin



Luke Harris


Bintou Agne


Faculty Mentors

Mark Lloyd

Vince Mendoza

From Tragedy to Triumph is an interactive student-led series about the African diaspora told through discussion with film, dance and music. Organized by USC Thornton professor Ron McCurdy, each event is produced in creative collaboration between student and faculty composers, dancers, filmmakers, musicians and writers from across the university. Learn more >