Dexter Scott King, a mirror image of his father, the esteemed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., has passed away at the age of 62. The King family announced his death in California due to prostate cancer, marking a significant loss in the lineage of civil rights activism.
Leah Weber King, Dexter’s wife, conveyed through a statement from the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change that her husband departed peacefully in his sleep. She honored his courage and resilience in battling the disease, reflecting the fortitude he displayed throughout his life.
The King Family in Mourning
The impact of Dexter King’s passing resonates deeply within his family. His sister, the Rev. Bernice King, and brother, Martin Luther King III, expressed their profound grief and shock, requesting prayers for the King family during this challenging period.
Dexter King, an alumnus of Morehouse College, played a pivotal role in preserving his father’s legacy. As the chairman of the King Center and president of the King Estate, he was instrumental in safeguarding Martin Luther King Jr.’s intellectual property and ensuring the continuation of his father’s work. The King Center acknowledged Dexter’s commitment to perpetuating his father’s ideals and protecting his intellectual legacy.
A Memoir and a Mission
In his memoir, “Growing Up King,” Dexter King explored various aspects of his life, including the profound impact of his father’s assassination. He transformed the pain of this loss into activism, a sentiment echoed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who recognized Dexter’s dedication to advancing his parents’ dreams.
Confronting the Past
In a notable 1997 encounter, Dexter King met with James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of his father. During this meeting, Ray denied killing Martin Luther King Jr., a claim that Dexter King believed, indicating his ongoing quest for truth and justice in his father’s untimely death.
A Name with Meaning
Named after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where his father served as pastor, Dexter King’s life was intertwined with the civil rights movement from the start. His mother, Coretta Scott King, and sister Yolanda King, who passed away in 2006 and 2007 respectively, were also central figures in this enduring legacy.
Dexter Scott King’s death marks the end of a chapter in the storied King family legacy. His life, dedicated to preserving his father’s work and advancing the cause of civil rights, leaves an indelible mark on the fabric of American history.