Civil Rights Leader Rev. William Lawson, Who Collaborated With Martin Luther King Jr, Dies At Age 95

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Mariane Angela Contributor
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Reverend William Lawson, a pastor and civil rights leader who helped desegregate Houston and collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr., died Tuesday at 95.

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, where Lawson served for over 40 years until retiring in 2004, announced his death.

“It is with both inexpressible sorrow and overwhelming gratitude that we announce the passing of our Founding Pastor, Reverend William A. Lawson on May 14, 2024. He has completed his time of service here on earth and is now enjoying eternal rest,” Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church said in a statement.

“In his nearly 96 years, Reverend Lawson has served as husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, as well as preacher, professor, and civil rights leader. But whatever title you may have used to describe him, it has been said many times that Reverend Bill Lawson was ‘Houston’s Pastor.’”

Lawson founded Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in 1962, which soon became a hub for civil rights activism in Houston. Lawson also helped establish the local office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization led by King. (RELATED: CALLISTA AND NEWT GINGRICH: Americans Still Believe In Reverend King’s Dream).

Democratic Houston Mayor John Whitmire praised Lawson’s enduring influence on the city’s growth and his steadfast commitment to civil rights issues, NBC News reported.

“He is one of the reasons why our city is so great. He helped us during the period of civil rights and social justice,” Whitmire said, according to NBC News. “Houston benefited from his leadership, his character.”