The Rev. Henry L. Bird was released from jail in Williamston, N. C., on Wednesday, along with others of the group of fifty, northern ministers and local people, who were arrested last week following a non-violent demonstration.

The bond posted for their release had to be supplied by local taxpayers or property owners (any amount of money had been offered and was ready on the Vineyard), and although the necessary amount was nominal, said to be only $125, even that sum couldn’t be supplied by sympathetic people in the town except by liens on their properties.

Mrs. Bird said she expected her husband to be home late Saturday or early Sunday. He will return to Williamston for the hearing on Dec. 2.

Eleven Ministers Arrested

Eleven white ministers, among them Mr. Bird, and fifty-four Negroes, twenty-two of them under 16, and four white seminary students were arrested in Williamston on Nov. 14 when the group attempted to march in a demonstration in the downtown area.

There was no violence, but the marchers braved an angry mob of white spectators who lined the streets for three blocks near the courthouse and muttered threats.

After their arrest, the marchers were booked on charges of unlawful assembly, of parading without a permit, and of obstructing vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The marchers had also proceeded in spite of a restraining order issued earlier in the day by a North Carolina superior court judge. The day before the march, the chief of police had presented to the group an application form to comply with the city ordinance, but the leaders of the movement had ignored the application.

Several of the ministers had refused to eat in jail, and called of their fast only after the jail itself had been desegregated.

On Nov. 16 Gov. Terry Sanford of North Carolina sent his top trouble-shooter in racial matters to Williamston. Other ministers from New England went to Williamston this week, followed by other supporters.

Among the original group of ministers, five steadfastly refused bail until Wednesday. Mr. Bird was among those who elected to remain in jail along with a number of Negroes.

In Mr. Bird’s Absence

In Mr. Bird’s absence, the Rev. Elliot F. Gauffreau, associate rector, presided over the vestry meeting, held at Grace Church parish house, Vineyard Haven, Tuesday night. The Ven. Lewis Sheen, archdeacon, who came to attend the meeting, spoke warmly in his support of Mr. Bird, and vestry members voted to send a letter of encouragement to their rector.

Excerpts below are from a letter to his wife from Mr. Bird in Martin County Jail:

Here we are (Nov. 18) fourth day in the clink!...Got a telegram from...and letters from...

I haven’t had another chance to get out of the cell for a call, and I must admit this has been the hardest part of it all. As long as I was able to talk with you every day all was well...

We started a hunger strike briefly again yesterday because some of the men who were removed to another jail were segregated and fasted to protest - so we started again in sympathy. Soon, though, they were moved, and we were eating again. You’d be pleased to know I’m doing calisthenics every day, and I know I’m losing weight...I’ve washed T shirt, socks and shirt in our common sink and gotten somewhat freshened up. There is a shower stall but no towels.

The food comes in tin loaf pans and is mostly carbohydrate. The fruit is the best when they have it. They serve no coffee, tea, milk or anything but do give us paper cups for water out of the tap. I do have razor, etc., paper and books, so get along fairly well. However, we’re not allowed to have any candy bars, etc., brought to us.

Things are not too bad on the whole, and apparently an impact is being made everywhere by this. We heard from Bishop Stokes today...that the whole House of Bishops has been wrestling thoroughly with it!

In my cell have been (since Friday when the split us up to integrate us) John Harmon, Charles Glenn...and the Rev. David King...also several Negroes, some of whom were here before we came in.

We keep busy - exercising, reading, writing, washing, sleeping, singing, talking, sleeping - and getting all excited when visitors come. It is so hard to find out what’s going on outside - and gets a bit frustrating to say the least....

Some of the group are going out today. It looks as though I’m worth more in jail than out so here I’ll stay for a while anyway.