Orindatus Simon Bolivar Wall
A hero of African-American history whose story is forgotten because his descendants decided they were white.
By Daniel J. Sharfstein, Posted Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, at 7:20 AM ET, Slate.com
His very name hovered on the line between slavery and freedom: Orindatus Simon Bolivar Wall. Orindatus was a slave's name, through and through. It had a Latinate grandiosity that many masters favored for their chattel when Wall was born on a North Carolina plantation in the 1820s, the son of his owner and a slave woman. All his life, people got the name wrong. They called him Oliver. They called him Odatis. Eventually, he went by his initials: O.S.B. Wall.
As much as Orindatus signaled slavery, his middle names suggested the opposite: Simon Bolivar, the great liberator of Latin America, a man who had decreed...