Delta employee earns honors for using athletics to channel the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.

Carlos McMath’s grandmother always told him that whatever he did in life, he’d be successful.

Turns out, she was right.

The Saginaw native is being recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Award recipient. Carlos McMath, director of diversity and inclusion for Delta College, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Award.

“It’s humbling. And it’s overwhelming because it means a lot to people. This is a testament to how I was raised and the people who mentored me along the way,” McMath says.

“It means a lot to me because it’s a tribute to them.”

McMath is the director of diversity and inclusion at Delta College, where he’s also the head coach for the men’s basketball team.

It’s sports that led him here. A four-sport athlete at Arthur Hill High School, McMath would go on to play football at Wayne State University. Forced to stop playing due to injury, McMath’s desire to compete would not be quashed. He joined the debate team, succeeding at that too. He’d go on to receive scholarships for his debate prowess.

“Policy debate led me to become a better student,” he says. “One opportunity closed, but another one opened.”

A new skill unlocked, McMath would graduate from Wayne State and go on to get a law degree from Michigan State University.

It was sports again, however, that led him back to the Great Lakes Bay Region and to his current position at Delta College. It was in 2014 when McMath was asked to become the assistant coach of the men’s basketball team at Delta. Just a year later, he became the head coach.

He’s led the team to considerable success. Under his leadership, the team won its first District 10 Championship and made an appearance in the NJCAA DIII National Tournament. McMath was acknowledged with the Coach of the Year award.

Early in his career as coach, McMath would take the position of Delta’s Student Diversity and Leadership Coordinator. He would then be named to his current position.

“I work on organizing and developing different seminars, events, and partnerships for the college. On the student side, I organize things like the heritage months and recruit students from marginalized communities,” McMath says.

“The college teaches students the hard skills. I work with them on the soft skills so they can be more effective when they go out in the workforce.”

McMath is also a member of Delta’s Black Faculty and Staff Association.

“Carlos has been instrumental and a tremendous asset to the creation and success of the diversity and inclusion program at Delta College,” Veronica Bond, business services specialist for Delta and BFSA member, said in a release.

“He is a loyal, honest, considerate and supportive individual who has the ability to see and understand things from different perspectives. Carlos is well deserving of this honor and truly embodies the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

The Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Award will be given to McMath at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Luncheon. Now in its 24th year, the annual event is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 20 at 11:00 a.m. at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw.

A 10:00 a.m. unity march is planned to start from the intersection of Franklin and Hayden streets. Ruth D. Jones, PhD, is the keynote speaker for the Regional MLK Celebration on Jan. 22. Jones, a NASA employee, will host a conversation after a free screening of the movie “Hidden Figures.”

The unity march and luncheon kick off several days of events centered on the legacy of Dr. King. On Tuesday, January 21, there will be a special screening of Hidden Figures, a movie that tells the true story of three African American women that worked at NASA at the height of the space race.

Ruth D. Jones, PhD, will follow the movie with a “fireside chat.” The event begins at 5:00 p.m. at the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts, Curtiss Hall, on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University. Learn more on Facebook.

The following day ­– January 22 ­– is the Regional MLK Celebration. Also located at the Malcolm Field Theatre, the event will feature Keynote Speaker Ruth D. Jones, herself an employee of NASA. A presentation for high school seniors will be held, where the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Scholarships will be awarded.

“MLK means non-violence, but there was also an evolution in his speeches. In his later days, he grew into a more worldly view,” says McMath.

“To me, he represents growth. Your philosophy can change but the core of what you believe can remain.”
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