The Travelstead Room is conceived as a site of conscience and, as defined by Sebastian Brett and others, “draws upon the power of memorialization by conceiving space as a forum for citizen engagement. Public memorials don’t seek to just honor; they generate conversations to consider lessons from the past and for the present and future.”
The Travelstead Room was dedicated in 2006 as a way to honor South Carolina educators and to bring the Travelstead story to a larger public sphere. The Museum wanted to do more, however, than merely mount a few photographs or place a nameplate over the door. That would only trivialize what was a remarkable and an unfortunate event in the history of University of South Carolina. More importantly, it would have been a lost opportunity to engage our students, to address issues with our faculty, and to attempt to reconcile some problems from the past.
We “must do more than teach young people what happened; they must also open new spaces for dialogue about how what happened related to young people’s experiences today. These spaces must help young people develop critical thinking skills, the courage to question, and models of nonviolent engagement—all foundations of a culture of human rights.” Memorialization and Democracy: State Policy and Civic Action by Sebastian Brett, Louis Bickford, Liz Sevcenko, and Marcella Rios. New York: The International Center for Transitional Justice, 2008.
“What is important is to build a space for dialogue. . . . to face the challenge in using memory to build bridges between people but also to raise issues of social justice. When we construct sites we should also remember that this is when the conversation really begins.” Yasmin Sooka from the Foreword, Memory to Action: A Toolkit for Memorialization in Post-Conflict Societies by Ereshnee Naidu with contributions from Bix Gabriel and Mofidul Hoque. New York: International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, 2011/2012.