York College History Major Sees the Past Through a New Lens
For Mackenzie “Mack” Brooks ’24, the past is all about perspective—and it’s changing the way she looks at things.
During her time at York College of Pennsylvania, Mackenzie “Mack” Brooks ’24 has had the chance to explore not just the chronology of history, but also the lens through which it’s told. “In my history courses, it’s very much about historiography and about looking at an event from a different lens than we’ve seen it before,” she says.
One prime example of this has been her exploration of the Civil Rights Movement. The story differs greatly depending on who is telling it, she says—often, it’s told from the male perspective. When the perspective is shifted to be seen through the eyes of women, the stories are told in a very different way.
Mack poured a lot of heart into working on a podcast that explored this same topic. She was tasked with reading a book and looking at the history through a new point of view. She chose At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle McGuire, a book that explores the Civil Rights Movement through the stories of black women. Mack then created a podcast where she pretended to interview the author.
Through the experiences she’s had as a York College History major, Mack has begun to think a lot about what it means to be a part of history in the making. “What we see now is not how it’s going to be told in the end,” she says. “Getting involved in academia and how we tell those stories is very important to me.”
Taking history to the stage
Apart from her courses, Mack has also loved getting involved with theatre. She joined the cast of a play with student-director Melanie McGeary ’22 called Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons by Sam Steiner. The play, which will be shared as part of the College’s Cultural Series, explores the ideas of censorship in the United Kingdom as a couple navigates their relationship while only being allowed to say 140 words per day.
“This play really ties into history,” Mack says. As part of the process of being in the play, she has been exploring the history of censorship to gain a better understanding of her character and the play’s context.
“When people think about history, they usually think about people like George Washington,” Mack says, “but you can look into the history of theatre and find things that really stand out.”
When not on stage, Mack has enjoyed exploring a more practical approach to history—history that can be touched and experienced. The College’s Office of Communications approached Mackenzie to take part in a photoshoot that highlighted what being a History major involved.
As part of the process, Mack visited the York College Archives. While there, she looked through yearbooks dating back to the late nineteenth century and small booklets that reported what had happened at York College over the decades. Being able to hold something that was held by people so long ago—not knowing their story, but knowing that they had stark differences yet many similarities—inspired Mack to continue her exploration.
After graduation, she’s considering pursuing a position at a museum or a career as a paralegal. Wherever she ends up, she considers her journey getting there an incredible adventure, and the rich history of York and her proximity to it has made her studies that much more tangible, she says. “There’s no better place to study history than a place with a lot of history.”