Dexter Scott King, the younger son of Martin Luther King Jr and Coretta Scott King, has died after battling prostate cancer.
The King Center in Atlanta, which Dexter King served as chairperson, said the 62-year-old son of the civil rights leader died on Monday at his California home after battling prostate cancer. His wife, Leah Weber King, said in a statement that he died “peacefully in his sleep”.
Dexter King was named for the Dexter Avenue Baptist church in Alabama where his father once served as pastor, and he was just seven years old when his father was assassinated in 1968. He was the third of the Kings’ four children.
As an adult, Dexter King became an attorney and focused on shepherding his father’s legacy as well as protecting the King family’s intellectual property. In addition to serving as chair of the King Center, he was also the president of the King estate.
Coretta Scott King died in 2006, followed by the Kings’ oldest child, Yolanda King, in 2007.
“Words cannot express the heart break I feel from losing another sibling,” Bernice A King, Dexter King’s youngest sibling, said in a statement.
Dexter King’s older brother, Martin Luther King III, said: “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.”
Atlanta’s mayor, Andre Dickens, said he stood with his city “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,” Dickens said.
Dickens said Dexter King held various titles, including those of Morehouse College graduate, humanitarian, civil rights activist and even actor.
“However, above all, he was a devoted family man,” said Dickens, who also offered condolences to Dexter King’s various survivors.
Georgia US senator Raphael Warnock, who was once a pastor at the same Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta that Martin Luther King Jr had previously been, said in a statement that he prayed with the King family on Monday. He added: “I join the citizens of our state, nation, and the global beloved community in extending my deepest condolences, strength, and solidarity to them during this time of remembrance and grief.”
George Chidi contributed reporting.