ATLANTA – Dexter Scott King, who dedicated much of his life to shepherding the civil rights legacy of his parents, the Rev Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, died on Jan 22 after battling prostate cancer. He was 62.
The King Center in Atlanta, which Dexter King served as chairman, said the younger son of the civil rights icon died at his home in Malibu, California. His wife, Leah Weber King, said in a statement that he died “peacefully in his sleep.”
“The sudden shock is devastating,” Martin Luther King III, the older brother of Dexter King, said in a statement. “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.”
The third of the Kings’ four children, Dexter King was named for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father served as a pastor when the Montgomery bus boycott launched him to national prominence in the wake of the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks.
Dexter King was just seven years old when his father was assassinated in April 1968 while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.
“He turned that pain into activism, however, and dedicated his life to advancing the dream Martin and Coretta Scott King had for their children” and others, the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement. He said Dexter King “left us far too soon.”
US Senator Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, said he prayed with the King family Monday and extended “my deepest condolences, strength, and solidarity to them during this time of remembrance and grief.”
Dexter King described the impact his father’s killing had on his childhood, and the rest of his life, in a 2004 memoir, “Growing Up King.”
“Ever since I was seven, I’ve felt I must be formal,” he wrote, adding: “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.”
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