Orindatus Simon Bolivar Wall was the son of a white planter and an enslaved black woman. Born in the 1820s, he became the first regular commissioned African American captain in the U.S. Army during the Civil War.
Wall cycled through many identities in his lifetime. He was an accomplished bootmaker, an outspoken abolitionist in 1850s, and military recruiter. According to author of The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White Daniel Sharfstein: "In 1865, he became the first African-American to be regularly commissioned a captain in the Union Army."
Wall was active in integrating a church, and recruiting for Howard University after the war. He continued his work in service of the people of D.C. in various positions such as a police magistrate, justice of the peace, legislative representative. He died in 1891 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Although Wall and his wife had five children, he was largely lost to history until Daniel Sharfstein's scholarship was published. His subsequent generations eventually chose to break ties with the black community.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by writer Heidi Durrowcelebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year's profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.