In a sad announcement, the King Center revealed the passing of Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of civil rights icons Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. At the age of 62, Dexter succumbed to prostate cancer on January 22, leaving a void in the hearts of those who admired his dedication to preserving his father’s legacy.
His sister Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center, said “words cannot express the heart break I feel from losing another sibling. I’m praying for strength to get through this very difficult time”. His brother, Martin Luther King, III added ‘‘the sudden shock is devastating. It is hard to have the right words at a moment like this. We ask for your prayers at this time for the entire King family”.
Born on January 30, 1961, in Atlanta, Dexter was named after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father served his first pastorate. Growing up in the shadow of his father’s activism, Dexter attended Frederick Douglas High School and followed in his father’s footsteps to Morehouse College in Atlanta. He not only excelled academically but also showcased his athletic prowess in football.
Dexter Scott King was responsible for safeguarding his father’s work, dedicating his life to protecting his intellectual property. Serving as both Chairman of The King Center and President of the King Estate, he became well-versed in intellectual property law. His commitment to this cause was a testament to his love and respect for his parents.
Despite a love for the creative arts, Dexter’s initial pursuit of a career in acting took a backseat to his duties to the King family legacy. Notably, he portrayed his father in the 2002 television movie The Rosa Parks Story, showcasing his humility about his uncanny resemblance to the civil rights leader.
In July 2013, Dexter Scott King married Leah Weber, his best friend and longtime partner. Together, they built a life of love, support, and unconditional devotion, mirroring the strong bond shared by Dexter’s parents. Leah, a New Orleans native and former broadcast journalist, stood by Dexter’s side throughout his courageous battle with cancer.
“He transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu”, said Leah Weber King. “He gave it everything and battled this terrible disease until the end. As with all the challenges in his life, he faced this hurdle with bravery and might”, she said.
Dexter is survived by his loving wife, Leah Weber King; his sister, Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King; his brother, Martin Luther King, III; and his niece, Yolanda Renee King. The King family has faced immense loss, with Dexter preceded in death by his father (1968), mother (2006), and sister Yolanda (2007).
The King family has requested privacy during this difficult time, planning to address media inquiries following a press conference scheduled for Tuesday, January 23, at 10 a.m. at The King Center’s Yolanda D. King Theatre inside Freedom Hall. Details about a memorial service will be announced at a later time.
Dexter Scott King’s passing profoundly impacted those who admired his commitment to justice, love, and preserving his father’s legacy. As we mourn his loss, we remember a man who navigated the delicate balance between family duty and personal pursuits, leaving an indelible mark on the ongoing fight for equality and justice.