ATLANTA – The King Center has announced that Dexter Scott King, the youngest son and third child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, has died.
King died on Jan. 22 at the age of 62 after a “valiant battle with prostate cancer,” according to the King Center.
“He transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu”, says his best friend of 21 years, his strongest supporter and wife of 11 years, 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.
His sister Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center, stated “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 in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 1961, he was named after Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father served his first pastorate. He was the second-born son of Dr. & Mrs. King and was only seven years old when his father was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968. Like his father, he grew up in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where his grandfather served as pastor. He was a graduate of Frederick Douglas High School, where he played football and participated in many other school organizations. He then followed in his father’s footsteps to Morehouse College in Atlanta.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MAY 23: (L-R) Martin Luther King III, Dr. Bernice King, and Dexter Scott King attend “The Redemption Project With Van Jones” Atlanta Screening at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site on May 23, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (P
The son of the civil rights icons was the family member delegated to take on the mantel of continuing the precedent his father set by legally protecting his work. He devoted his life to the continued perpetuation of his father’s legacy and the protection of the intellectual property (IP) his father left behind. At the time of his death, Dexter served as both Chairman of The King Center and President of the King Estate. Becoming well versed in intellectual property law, and its management and licensing was the result of his dedication to the delegated task and the memory of both his father and mother.
Known to be humble about his uncanny resemblance to his father, he portrayed him in the 2002 television movie “The Rosa Parks Story.” The actor had a love for the creative arts and initially relocated to California to pursue a career in acting. But family duty called and he answered, living out the rest of his life balancing both his love of the arts and his duties to the King family legacy.
ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 14: Dexter King at 2019 V-103 Winterfest at State Farm Arena on December 14, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.(Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)
At a private ceremony in July of 2013, he married his best friend and longtime partner, Leah Weber, who is a New Orleans native, former broadcast journalist, entrepreneur, and consultant. Together they built a life of love, support and unconditional love, much like that of Dexter’s mother and father.
He was preceded in death by his father (1968), his mother (2006) and sister Yolanda (2007). He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 11 years Leah Weber King, his sister Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, his brother Martin Luther King, III, and his neice, Yolanda Renee King.
The King family requests privacy at this time and will respond to media inquiries following a press conference planned for Tuesday Jan. 23, at 10 a.m., at The King Center’s Yolanda D. King Theatre inside Freedom Hall.
A memorial service will be announced at a later time.
Dexter Scott King remembered: Tributes and memories shared
Tributes, remembrances, memories, and other well-wishes for the King family are being released to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s youngest son, Dexter King.
Atlanta Council member Michael Julian Bond grew up with Dexter King. They played as kids in the same neighborhood. He struggled to come to grips with the awful news.
“First it was just shock and then disbelief,” Bond said.
His heart was heavy.
“Very sad. I’m very shocked by it,” he said.
“We knew he had a health challenge but did not know it was serious as it turned out to be,” he added.
Bond grew up just two houses down from the Kings.
“He was just a great guy, a warm personality,” Bond said.
“Just ripping and running in the street, playing football in the street on the asphalt. Riding bikes, riding skateboards, playing all day,” he added.
Others across Atlanta and the world are also remembering Dexter King:
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens:
“I stand with Atlanta and so many worldwide in grieving the loss of Dexter Scott King. His profound and unwavering love for his family positioned him as a guardian of his father and mother’s legacies. Dexter held various titles—Morehouse Man, humanitarian, Civil Rights activist, and even actor. However, above all, he was a devoted family man. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Leah Weber King, Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, their entire extended family, and all who knew and loved him.”
Atlanta City Council:
“Dexter Scott King’s life and contributions will leave a lasting impact on the legacy of the King family and the broader struggle for equality and justice. We express our sincere condolences to his wife Leah Weber King, Martin Luther King III, Dr. Bernice King, the King Center, and all who cherished him. His contributions to civil rights and his role as a member of Atlanta’s beloved family will leave an indelible mark on our society. His memory will be a source of inspiration and may those in mourning find solace and comfort at this difficult time.”
The Georgia NAACP and the Atlanta NAACP:
“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dexter Scott King on his passing. The Georgia NAACP and the Atlanta NAACP join the nation in mourning the loss of a remarkable individual whose life was dedicated to advancing civil rights, equality, and justice.
Dexter Scott King’s legacy is woven into the fabric of the ongoing struggle for a more just and equitable society. As the son of the iconic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Dexter carried forward his family’s commitment to the principles of nonviolent activism and the pursuit of equality for all. His tireless efforts to promote social justice, civil rights, and community development have left an indelible mark on our nation.
During this difficult time, we extend our deepest sympathies to Dexter Scott King’s family, friends, and all those who had the privilege of working alongside him. His passing is not only a loss to his loved ones but also to the broader community that benefited from his passion, vision, and commitment to justice.
As we reflect on Dexter’s life, let us honor his memory by rededicating ourselves to the principles he championed. May we draw inspiration from his legacy as we continue the fight for equality, fairness, and the realization of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a beloved community. The Georgia NAACP and the Atlanta NAACP stand in solidarity with all those mourning Dexter Scott King’s passing, and we offer our support during this challenging time. May his contributions to the civil rights movement serve as a beacon of hope for future generations.”
Rep. Carl Gillard, chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus:
“We the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus offer our condolences on the passing of Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A graduate of Morehouse College, King worked as chairman of The King Center and president of the King Estate. As a friend to the King family, we ask that you please keep the entire King family in your prayers and, in particular, Dexter’s wife, Leah Weber.”