Dexter Scott King Dies: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Son Dead At 62

Dexter King, the youngest son of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, died on January 22, 2024. The Associated Press reported he died from complications related to prostate cancer. He was 62. Just 7 years old when his father was assassinated, Dexter King grew up to continue his father's legacy as an attorney and the chairman of the King Center. The Atlanta-based organization works to empower others through Dr. King's non-violent methods, per the King Center website.

Dexter King died at his home in Malibu, California in his sleep. His older brother, Martin Luther King III, mourned the passing of his brother. "I am deeply saddened to share that my brother, Dexter Scott King, has passed away," he said in a statement (via CBS News). "The sudden shock is devastating. It is hard to have the right words at a moment like this." Their mother, Coretta Scott King, died in 2006 and their older sister, Yolanda King, the next year. Their youngest sibling, the Rev. Bernice A. King, also mourned Dexter's death. "Words cannot express the heart break I feel from losing another sibling," she said in a statement.

He grew up in his father's shadow

Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King named Dexter King after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father had been the pastor, per the AP. It was from this church that MLK became the face of the civil rights movement during the bus boycott of 1955. Dexter recalled watching television with his brother on April 4, 1968 when a special bulletin interrupted the program to announce their father had been assassinated, according to CNN.

Growing up, he felt the weight of his father's legacy that began with MLK's death. "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," he recalled in his book "Growing Up King: An Intimate Memoir." After initially struggling with this, he eventually embraced his history. "For years I'd looked in the mirror and seen my father's face trapped in mine," he recalled in his book. In addition to chairing the King Center he was also the president of the King estate. He even portrayed his father in the 2002 made-for-TV movie "The Rosa Parks Story." Besides his brother Martin Luther King III and sister the Rev. Bernice King, he leaves behind his wife Leah Weber King. He had no children.