- The Department of Black Studies was founded in 1969 to provide an accurate and thorough treatment of the history of people of African ancestry; examine the impact of current forces that shape the Black experience; and contribute to a basic understanding of the unique issues faced by people of African ancestry.
- The department is the only interdisciplinary department at New Paltz that covers humanities, social sciences, and the arts while concentrating on the African diaspora.
- The department offers two different majors in liberal arts and sciences and elementary education.
- A black studies major provides a background for students interested in social welfare, government, foreign services, political science, and several other vocations.
- The department is a repository for the local liberation struggles from the Antebellum period to the Civil Rights Movement.