King Family Remains Committed To Their Cause Following the Passing of Dexter King

The third child of the King children, Dexter passed after a three-year battle with prostate cancer on January 22.

After the passing of Dexter Scott King, the third child of Civil Rights icons Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, the King family is determined to carry on the work in his honor, the

Taking the stage at the Yolanda D. King Theatre for the Performing Arts on Tuesday (Jan.23), Bernice King, CEO of the King Center shared memories of her brother at the press conference.

“Growing up, I remember spending time in the evenings when I was 9 or 10, or maybe 11, and both he and Martin [Martin Luther King III] wanted me to plait [braid] their hair because they thought it would continue to make it grow,” said Bernice King as she was filled with emotion.

“We had a good time,” she continued.

Her older sister, Yolanda King died in 2007 at age 51 and her mother died in 2006 at age 78. The family had worked to continue to the legacy of their father, who was assassinated in 1968.

Accompanied by her cousins Alveda King and Angela Farris Watkins, she said that addressing her brother’s passing is “the hardest thing for me to do.”

“My big, baby brother passed away in his sleep after a 3-1/2-year battle with prostate cancer,” Bernice King said. “He tried, with everything in him, to defeat it. He fought to the very last minute.”

She also shared her gratitude for Leah Weber King, Dexter King’s wife, describing her as her “sister-in-love,” for her “perseverance, love and sacrifice, care, and jovial nature through it all. She stayed by his side during the entire journey.”

Martin Luther King III was not in attendance at the press conference because he was traveling outside of the country.

Bernice King also noted that Dexter’s body was also cremated on Monday (Jan.22)  “by his wishes” and a memorial service is currently being planned to take place in Atlanta.

Since the news of Dexter Scott King’s passing went public, the family has been “flooded with messages from all over the world” including expressions of condolences from President Joe Biden and Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Dexter Scott King, son of Dr. Martin Luther King, has passed away.

Dexter King, Son of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Dies at 62

“Dexter Scott King committed his life to carrying forward his father’s work – paving the path to the Beloved Community, a sacred place where justice and righteousness abound,” President Joe Biden wrote. “Jill and I pray for his wife Leah, the Kings, and all those who knew, loved, and were inspired by Dexter.”

Warnock, who pastors Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Martin Luther King Jr. and his father, Martin Luther King Sr., were co-pastors, said he was praying the King family will receive the “peace that surpasses human understanding” as they deal with the loss of Dexter King.

“As a voice for Georgians in the Senate and the pastor of the King family’s spiritual home, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dexter King,” Warnock wrote. “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.”

Before his passing, Dexter King was the CEO of the King Estate where he gave oversight to his father’s intellectual property. With his business acumen, legal skills as an attorney, and his ardent protection of his family’s legacy,  he filed suits against corporations who used his father’s likeness and words without authorization. In 2005,  he negotiated the purchase of the King papers to the City of Atlanta for $32 Million.

Bernice King spoke about how the family knew that Dexter King was the right person to be the custodian of their father’s work after their mother decided to retire from public service.

“We all looked to Dexter because we knew with his business sense, he would be the best person,” Bernice King said. “Dexter was before his time. Even I didn’t understand that. But I told him that he had the most strategic mind I had ever known.”

As an actor he portrayed him in the 2002 made-for-television film “The Rosa Parks Story,” co-starring with Angela Bassett. He also penned a book honoring his family’s significant role during the Civil RIghts movement titled, Growing Up King: An Intimate Memoir which was published in 2003. 

Eric Tidwell, King estate’s general counsel, will assume leadership of the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Bernice King said the family will make an announcement about who will replace Dexter King as the estate’s new board chairman.

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