Why Black Studies Departments Matter

Black Studies differs from other majors, as it was born out of resistance. Black Studies departments came into existence through the Black Power movement, which advocated for Black folks to build our own institutions.

Black students took the lead, and the first Black Studies department was born out of San Francisco State University’s Black Student Union strike, which successfully demanded and implemented a Black Studies department.

Since it’s creation, Black Studies has helped create many leaders in the Black community.

In terms of thinking about some of the most pressing issues we are facing together, like what it means to say Black lives matter or to talk about a police state or carceral state, Black Studies has been at the core of addressing those ideas.

-Minkah Makalani, Ph.D.

Black Studies is important because it gives Black students a chance to critically understand their history as well as learn the tools to organize their community. In addition, Black Studies departments have the power to control the curriculum.

African-American studies departments are best described as a separate, autonomous unit possessing exclusive rights and privileges to hire and terminate, grant tenure to their faculty, certify students, confer degrees, and administer a budget.

In addition, Black Studies departments were able to provide safe educational spaces for Black students at PWI’s (predominantly white institutions) to develop intellectually.

PushBlack salutes the Black Power movement as well as San Francisco State University’s Black Student Union for creating Black Studies departments.