Steve DiGioia

Dexter Scott King Passed Away at the Age of 62: Died “peacefully in his sleep”

Dexter Scott King, 62, son of Martin Luther King, died on Monday due to prostate cancer.

He was the son of the great revolutionaries Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King and had dedicated his life in the footsteps of his parents carrying on the civil rights legacy.

The news of his passing was given by the King Center in Atlanta, where Dexter had served as the Chairman. 

Family’s Reaction

His wife said in a statement that he died peacefully in his sleep as he was battling with prostate cancer.

While for his older brother, Martin Luther King lll, it was a sudden shock and he felt devastated as he asked the public to give them prayers and strength.

His sister, Bernice King is also in despair and feels great loss of losing two of her siblings.

Dexter was the third of four children and was named after Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, where Martin Luther King, his father, had served as the pastor during the Montgomery bus boycott. It was the rising moment in his father’s life.

Unfortunately, his father passed away when he was just a 7-year-old boy, assassinated in April 1968 while supporting sanitation workers in Memphis.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement that it was his father’s death and the pain of his passing that led Dexter into activism and dedicated his life to the dream that his parents sought for their children.

In the 2004 memoir, “Growing Up King,” Dexter shared the despair and the impact his father’s death had on his childhood and how it never left him throughout his life. He also wrote that he felt it was his responsibility to be formal all the time.

As he grew older, his resemblance to his father was so extreme that he was cast as his famous father in a 2002 TV movie “The Rosa Parks Story” about Rosa Parks and her fight for civil rights.

Not just a son of a famous figure, he also worked his entire life to protect the King family’s intellectual property along with becoming the president of King estate.

His Controversial Statement 

However, Dexter was highlighted previously for his public statement about his father’s assassination. He believed James Earl Ray, who pleaded guilty in 1969 for the assassination, was innocent. 

He had also met him in 1997 at a Nashville prison during the King family’s efforts to put him on trial to reveal the depths of the assassination. Unfortunately, the killer died the next year and the family could not figure out the conspiracy behind their father’s death.

The Internal conflict 

Even though Martin Luther King dreamt of his legacy being carried on by his children, things did not turn out quite well.

Dexter King and his siblings shared control over the family estate, but they all disagreed on the ways to carry on their parent’s legacy.

There were internal disagreements and one such disagreement had turned into a court case. Dexter King and his brother decided in 2014 to sell the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to their father in 1964. Not only that, but they also wanted to sell his travelling Bible which Barack Obama also used in his second inauguration. Their sister Bernice King did not agree with the decision.

The dispute was settled in 2016 after former President Jimmy Carter intervened in the matter. The items were kept by the brothers, but the rest of the settlement was kept confidential.


The Remaining Family

The King family now consists of his wife, his older brother, Martin Luther King lll, his younger sister, Bernice King and a niece Yolanda Renee King. Their mother, Coretta Scott King died in 2006 along with the oldest sibling in 2007.

The memorial service is yet to be announced by the King Center while the family plans for a Ness conference on Jan 23 in Atlanta.


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