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Have you ever noticed how the same chairs can be found at parties, graduations, Montgomery Brawls, and on back porches? That’s because portable folding chairs were invented in 1889 by John Purdy and Daniel Sadgwar.

Purdy, who was Black, and Sadgwar both wanted to improve the strength and portability of folding chairs.

Classified as a camp, traveling or sports stool, Purdy and Daniel Sadgwar introduced significant improvements to the folding chair, making it extremely portable, durable, but light enough to carry.

Though their original design has been improved with time, its popularity has seen a resurgence in recent weeks after what’s been dubbed the ‘Montgomery Brawl.’

Antiquated stereotypes such as “Black people don’t stick together” or “Black people can’t swim” were expeditiously disproven in a show of unity and strength that had the internet goin’ nuts for days.

As fades were distributed left, right, and diagonally in response to the White mob attack on the fallen Black riverboat co-captain, the internet celebrated the victory in historic fashion, honoring the folding chair in particular.

According to Today, the co-captain who was attacked said he “held on for dear life” as a group of White boaters jumped him in a large brawl that broke out at the Montgomery Riverfront in Alabama on Aug. 5. 

“A tall, older White guy came over and hit me in the face. I took my hat off and threw it in the air,” he wrote. 

In true “Black folks don’t take nothin’ serious” fashion, the onslaught of hilarious and creative memes, videos, and parodies of the brawl was a healthy reminder of our ability to find joy and comic relief in Black liberation and self-defense.

While the Montgomery Brawl memes and videos were undoubtedly creative, many had no idea they were also paying homage to an ancestor.

Unlike White inventors who are well-known and revered throughout the annals of history, a single photo does not exist of John Purdy nor additional information to share about his life.

Though very little is known of Purdy, he clearly had vision and followed in a long line of empathetic Black inventors who created everyday products and services to make life easier for everyone.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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