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The Revolution Today: Numbers
Miami, 2007: Coaches score a Super Bowl touchdown in black history,” a headline could have read that year. Not only will Super Bowl XLI be remembered as the day the ...

The Revolution Today: Numbers

Miami, 2007: Coaches score a Super Bowl touchdown in black history,” a headline could have read that year. Not only will Super Bowl XLI be remembered as the day the Colts beat the Bears, but it will also be remembered for its marker along history’s timeline. For the first time, the Super Bowl’s head coaches were African Americans. Appropriately, the game took place during February Black History Month.

Unlike most of the Super Bowl’s oddball-humored commercials, Coca-Cola heralded this historic milestone with a simple, poignant ad. The commercial featured dates and short sentences in plain letters against a simple background. Next to each statement was the outline of green-glassed Coca-Cola bottles, whose changing shapes and sizes reflected the corresponding year.

“North Pole, 1909: A black man is on top of the world,” the first tribute flashed. The timeline began with a salute to Matthew Alexander Henson, the indispensable assistant to Robert Peary. Together, they reached the frozen wonder.

“Tuskegee, 1941: Pilots prove heroism has no color,” the commercial continued, referring to World War II’s first black fighter pilot unit.

“Brooklyn, 1947: Baseball shows us courage, it’s #42,” the ad flashed, applauding Jackie Robinson’s accomplishment as the first black player of the modern major leagues.

“Montgomery, 1955: Woman remains seated. And stands for justice.” The commercial praised Rosa Parks’s unwillingness to give up her seat on a passenger bus to a white man.

“DC, 1963: A man inspires a nation to dream together.” The ad reminded viewers of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech that defined the American civil rights movement.

The ad then switched to the modern day, exchanging its nostalgic green-glass Coca-Cola bottles for a red one. “Coca-Cola celebrates black history: Especially today,” it concluded, saluting the Super Bowl’s coaches.

Dates are important to history, but the significance of a timeline is not its numbers but the people behind them. If Coca-Cola had existed during the Revolutionary War, its commercial could have started with this line: “Monmouth, 1778: After freezing at the Forge, seven hundred black Continentals fired their heat in the heat.” General George Washington approved the request by the leaders of Rhode Island to create an all-black regiment that first fought at Monmouth. This force of freemen and former slaves would become one of the army’s finest.

The Bible’s book of Numbers is a Super Bowl of statistics. The word number appears sixty-six times. Dates and numbers are sometimes boring, but they also give us a chance to take stock and count our blessings. They can leave us with a “census” of our lives, of where we have been and where we need to go.

Prayer

Father, allow me a moment today to take stock of my life and count the blessings you have given me.

“Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one”

(Numbers 1:2).


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