He has received UCLA's Distinguished Teaching Award and commendations from the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles. In 2012 he was given the American Studies Association’s inaugural Richard A. Yarborough Award in Mentoring, which is named in his honor. In 2014 he received the UCLA Academic Senate's Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Award. He has written on authors such as Frederick Douglass, Charles Chesnutt, Ann Petry, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Richard Wright. He is the director of the University Press of New England’s Library of Black Literature series and the associate general editor of the Heath Anthology of American Literature.