NATIONAL NEWS

The Rev. William Lawson, Texas civil rights leader who worked with Martin Luther King Jr, dies at 95

May 14, 2024, 2:03 PM | Updated: 2:10 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — The Rev. William “Bill” Lawson, a longtime pastor and civil rights leader who helped desegregate Houston and worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, has died. He was 95.

Lawson’s longtime church, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in that Texas city, announced on its website that he had died on Tuesday.

“He has completed his time of service here on earth and is now enjoying eternal rest,” the church said in its announcement.

Lawson founded Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in 1962 and served as its pastor for 42 years before retiring in 2004. He was known as “Houston’s Pastor” and remained active in his church and the community after retirement.

He worked with King during the civil rights movement by setting up the local office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization that was led by King.

During an interview in 2021 with his daughter Melanie Lawson, an anchor with KTRK in Houston, William Lawson recalled how he offered to play host to King at his church when others would not after the FBI wrongly accused King of being a communist.

“I told his staff I don’t have a big church. But he’s perfectly welcomed to come to my church and he came to Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church and he preached there,” Lawson said.

Both men remained close friends until King’s assassination in 1968.

Community leaders in Houston praised Lawson and his legacy on Tuesday.

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

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis said although Houston mourns his loss, “we celebrate a legacy that will guide us for generations to come.”

Memorial services celebrating Lawson’s life were set to be held at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church on May 23 and May 24.

National News

Associated Press

Closing arguments set in trial of University of Arizona grad student accused of killing a professor

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday in the trial of a former University of Arizona graduate student accused of killing a professor on campus two years ago. Murad Dervish, 48, faces seven felony charges including first degree murder in the death of Thomas Meixner, 52, who was shot nine times near […]

18 minutes ago

Associated Press

Arizona man sentenced to natural life in prison for the 2017 death of his wife, who was buried alive

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2017 death of his wife, who was buried alive in a hand-dug grave near their home, authorities said. Seven years after the murder, David Pagniano decided to plead guilty before his trial was scheduled […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Child is among 3 dead after Amtrak train hits a pickup truck in upstate New York

NEW YORK (AP) — A child was among the three victims killed when a passenger train hit a pickup truck, officials said. The northbound Amtrak train hit a Dodge truck Friday evening in North Tonawanda, New York, a small town along the Niagara River between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, police said. The victims included a […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

11 hurt in mass shooting that marked a weekend of gun violence in Savannah, Georgia

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — An argument between two women led to a gunfight that left 11 people hurt in a busy tourist area of Savannah, Georgia, late Saturday, one of five weekend shootings in the city, two of which were fatal, authorities said. Two people were injured in separate shootings Friday. Two more shootings Saturday […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Power expected to be restored to most affected by deadly Houston storm

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston area residents affected by deadly storms last week that left at least seven dead were finally getting some good news as officials said they expected power to be restored by Sunday evening to a majority of the hundreds of thousands still in the dark and without air conditioning amid hot and […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

America’s first Black astronaut candidate finally goes to space 60 years later on Bezos rocket

VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — America’s first Black astronaut candidate finally rocketed into space 60 years later, flying with Jeff Bezos’ rocket company on Sunday. Ed Dwight was an Air Force pilot when President John F. Kennedy championed him as a candidate for NASA’s early astronaut corps. But he wasn’t picked for the 1963 class. […]

6 hours ago

The Rev. William Lawson, Texas civil rights leader who worked with Martin Luther King Jr, dies at 95