Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of the legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, passed away on Monday, January 22, 2024, after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 62 years old. He is survived by his wife, Leah Weber King, whom he married in 2013, and his three siblings, Martin Luther King III, Bernice King, and Yolanda King.
Who was Dexter Scott King?
Dexter Scott King was born on January 30, 1961, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was named after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father served as pastor from 1954 to 1960. He was only seven years old when his father was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Dexter Scott King followed in his father’s footsteps and became a civil rights activist and a champion of social justice. He graduated from Morehouse College, his father’s alma mater, in 1982, with a degree in business administration. He also pursued a career in film and television, producing and starring in several documentaries and movies about his father and the civil rights movement.
He served as the chairman of The King Center, the official memorial and educational institution dedicated to his father’s legacy, from 1989 to 2013. He also served as the president of the King Estate, the entity that manages his father’s intellectual property, from 1995 until his death. He was instrumental in preserving and promoting his father’s vision of nonviolence, equality, and peace.
Dexter Scott King’s Battles with Prostate Cancer
Dexter Scott King was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009. He underwent surgery and radiation therapy, and was declared cancer-free in 2010. However, the cancer returned in 2019, and he had to undergo another surgery and chemotherapy. He fought the disease courageously until the end, but succumbed to it on Monday, January 22, 2024, at his home in Malibu, California.
His wife, Leah Weber King, issued a statement confirming his death. She said, “He transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu. 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.”
The King Center also released a statement, saying, “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved brother, Dexter Scott King. He was a devoted son, husband, brother, uncle, and friend. He dedicated much of his life to shepherding the civil rights legacy of his parents, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. He was a visionary leader, a passionate advocate, and a generous spirit. We ask for your prayers and respect for the privacy of the King family during this difficult time.”
Remembering Dexter Scott King
Dexter Scott King’s death sparked an outpouring of grief and tributes from his family, friends, and admirers. His brother, Martin Luther King III, said in a statement, “I am deeply saddened to share that my brother, Dexter Scott King, has passed away. The sudden shock is devastating. It is hard to have the right words at a moment like this. Please keep the entire King family in your prayers, and in particular Dexter’s wife, Leah Weber.”
His sister, Bernice King, tweeted, “My heart is broken. My brother, Dexter, was my best friend and confidant. He was always there for me, supporting me, encouraging me, and loving me unconditionally. He was a gentle soul, a kind spirit, and a loyal brother. I will miss him terribly, but I know he is now with our parents in heaven.”
Many other prominent figures and organizations also expressed their condolences and appreciation for Dexter Scott King’s life and work. Former President Barack Obama said, “Dexter Scott King was a remarkable man who carried on his father’s legacy with grace and courage. He was a friend and a partner in our efforts to advance the cause of justice and equality for all. Michelle and I send our deepest sympathies to his wife, Leah, and the entire King family.”
The NAACP said, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dexter Scott King, a stalwart of the civil rights movement and a champion of human rights. He was a leader, a mentor, and a friend to many of us at the NAACP. He leaves behind a rich legacy of service and activism that will inspire generations to come.”
Dexter Scott King was a son, a husband, a brother, a friend, and a leader. He was a man of faith, of compassion, and of courage. He was a man who devoted his life to honoring his father’s dream and advancing his father’s mission. He was a man who made a difference in the world. He will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. Rest in peace, Dexter Scott King.