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Dexter Scott King, Son of Martin Luther King Jr., Dies of Cancer at 62

Dexter Scott King, Son of Martin Luther King Jr., Dies of Cancer at 62
Dexter Scott King, Son of Martin Luther King Jr., Dies of Cancer at 62


Dexter Scott King, the younger son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, died Monday after battling prostate cancer.

The King Center in Atlanta, which Dexter King served as chairman, said the 62-year-old son of the civil rights icon died at his home in Malibu, California. His wife, Leah Weber King, said in a statement that he died “peacefully in his sleep.”

The third of the Kings’ four children, Dexter King was named for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father served as a pastor when the Montgomery bus boycott launched him to national prominence in the wake of the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks.

The family of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King at their Atlanta home in 1963. Dexter King, age 2, sits on his mother’s lap. Also pictured are Martin III, age 5, and Yolanda, 7.

Dexter King was just 7 years old when his father was assassinated in April 1968 while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. In his 2004 memoir, Growing Up King, Dexter King recalled his father’s slaying as the end of a carefree childhood.

“Ever since I was seven, I’ve felt I must be formal,” he wrote, adding: “Formality, seriousness, certitude — all these are difficult poses to maintain, even if you’re a person with perfect equilibrium, with all the drama life throws at you.”

As an adult, Dexter King became an attorney and focused on shepherding his father’s legacy and protecting the King family’s intellectual property. In addition to serving as chairman of the King Center, he was also president of the King estate.

In addition to his work with the King Center, Dexter King was known for the striking resemblance he bore to his father. They looked so much alike that the son ended up portraying his famous father in a 2002 TV movie about Parks.

Coretta Scott King died in 2006, followed by the Kings’ oldest child, Yolanda King, in 2007.

“Words cannot express the heartbreak I feel from losing another sibling,” the Rev. Bernice A. King, the youngest of the four, said in a statement.

The oldest King son, Martin Luther King III, said: “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.”


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