The activities of the CBMR include research and reference services, fellowships, education and engagement programming such as the Re/Sounding Black Chicago seminar, performances, and publications. These diverse services and resources impact a wide range of audiences and constituencies, including academic researchers and students at all levels of experience; musicians, composers, arrangers, and conductors; high school and grade school teachers and students; journalists and music writers; and filmmakers and television producers.

The CBMR Library and Archives, the international conferences on black music research, symposia on popular music artists and other topics sponsored by the CBMR, Columbia College Chicago, and other local and international collaborators, and CBMR performance programs are all open to the public.