The mission of William A Lawson Institute is to strengthen the Third Ward community through educational success for ALL students and provide safe and secure housing for senior citizens.

WALIPP continues Rev. Lawson’s community engagement to ensure equity and inclusion for all residents especially youth, seniors, and other low-income and underserved individuals.



Children, who must be equipped with the tool of education, the acknowledged key to power for communities and countries.


Those subject to the criminal justice system without the financial ability to obtain competent legal representation, who must be equipped with such legal representation, the acknowledged key to power for people in the courts where justice is dispensed.


Seniors, with declining income, who must be equipped with decent and safe housing, services and community, the acknowledged key to power for longer, healthier and more productive lives.


On April 15, 1996, the William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity, a nonprofit organization, was presented to Rev. Lawson by a spontaneous group of community leaders, as a complete surprise in commemoration of his 50 years in the ministry. Rev.Lawson’s many roles as a community server, defender of the underclass, advocate of youth development, bridge builder between groups and supporter of community revitalization are reflected in the direction of WALIPP.


A giant in the struggle for civil rights, the Rev. William “Bill” Lawson has been one of Houston’s most influential leaders for nearly 50 years.

While in seminary, he was married to Audrey H. Lawson of St. Louis. The Lawsons have four children, and celebrated their Diamond (60th) wedding anniversary in January of 2014.

He came to Houston to serve as director of the Baptist Student Union and Professor of Bible at the new (eight years old) Texas Southern University. He served in that position for ten years, also becoming director of Upward Bound, a pre-college program for high school students on the TSU campus.

He was launched into the civil rights movement when 14 TSU students conducted a sit-in to protest segregation at a lunch counter. Organizing one of the first protests against segregated schools and registering thousands of black voters, Lawson helped orchestrate the civil rights movement in Houston and even marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

During his years at TSU, a number of residents of the neighborhood persuaded the Lawsons to establish a church near the university. Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church was established in their home in June, 1962 with13 members. The congregation has grown to over 14,000 members, with many outreach programs, and is much respected in the community.

Since the church was born and lived its infant years during the Civil Rights Movement, Lawson has been deeply involved in advocacy activities for African Americans, for Hispanics, for women, and for the poor.

Lawson also conceived and organized the United Way‘s Houston Homeless Initiative with his good friends Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Houston-Galveston Catholic Diocese and Rabbi Samuel Karff of Congregation Beth Israel. He also chartered the Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapter in Houston and headed the national organization for more than three decades.

In 1996 the Houston community honored him with the creation of a non-profit advocacy agency called WALIPP, the William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity. That agency established two single-gender middle schools, chartered by the Texas Education Agency. WALIPP has also constructed an independent living facility for active elders consisting of 50 apartments in Houston’s Third Ward.

Rev. Lawson has received honorary doctorates from Howard Payne College in Brownwood, the University of Houston, Houston Community College and Texas Southern University in Houston. He is the author of a book of meditations called Lawson’s Leaves of Love.

Board of Directors
Advisory Committee

Chevazz G. Brown | Chris Brown | James Crownover | Jerome Gray | Judge Kenneth Hoyt | Jonathan R. Jackson | Frank Karkowsky | Melanie Lawson | Renee Logans | Willie Miles | Regina Rogers | Alan Rosen | Paula S. Sutton | Sheila M. Turner