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HISD school renaming prompts celebrations, protest

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A renaming ceremony for the new Audrey Lawson Middle School was held today. Foti Kallergis reports

Celebrations and a protest were held today as people gathered over the renaming of a Houston Independent School District school.

The new 'Audrey Lawson Middle School' in the Third Ward was previously known as 'Dowling Middle School.'

Audrey H. Lawson was a civil rights leader. She was married to Rev. Lawson of Wheeler Baptist Church and mother to our very own Melanie Lawson.

During the civil rights movement, Mrs. Audrey Lawson helped raise money to help protesters get out of jail. She started a number of programs at her church, from the boys and girls scout troop to the Bill Lawson Foundation, and she started charter schools for middle school boys and girls.

The new Lawson Middle School has a capacity of more than 1,300 students, and spreads nearly 200,000 square feet.

William Lawson, pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, said, "I'm feeling very emotional. She meant a great deal to me and this means that she meant a great deal to the community. So, I'm glad about this."

The celebration today was also protested outside.

Dozens of people were upset that the school wasn't named after another person: Carrie McAfee.

Protester Vivan Harris said, "The Lawsons, they have all kinds of property that they've acquired in the Third Ward. That's where their roots are. Why would they want to come over here? We started this way before Mrs. Lawson died."

It's common to have those types of protests at renaming of schools. The groundbreaking for the new school will start soon.

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