OBITUARY: Dexter Scott King

1961 — 2024

Dexter King 1999 John Mathew Smith
Photo credit: John Mathew Smit /
Dexter Scott King

The King Center sadly announces that Dexter Scott King, the youngest son and the third child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King, has passed today, January 22, 2024, after a valiant battle with prostate cancer. “He transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu”, says his best friend of 21 years, his strongest supporter and wife of 11 years, Leah Weber King. “He gave it everything and battled this terrible disease until the end. As with all the challenges in his life, he faced this hurdle with bravery and might”, she said. 

His sister Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center stated “words cannot express the heart break I feel from losing another sibling. I’m praying for strength to get through this very difficult time”. His brother Martin Luther King, III added ‘‘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“.

Born in Atlanta on January 30, 1961, he was named after Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama, where his father served his first pastorate. The 62-year-old was the second-born son of Dr. & Mrs. King and was only seven years old when his father was assassinated in Memphis, TN in 1968. Like his father, he grew up in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where his grandfather served as Pastor. He was a graduate of Frederick Douglas High School, where he played football and participated in many other school organizations. He then he followed his father’s footsteps to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

The son of the Civil Rights icons was the family member delegated to take on the mantel of continuing the precedent his father set by legally protecting his work. He devoted his life to the continued perpetuation of his father’s legacy and the protection of the intellectual property (IP) his father left behind. At the time of his death Dexter served as both Chairman of The King Center and President of the King Estate. Becoming well versed in intellectual property law, and its management and licensing was the result of his dedication to the delegated task and the memory of both his father and mother.

Known to be humble about his uncanny resemblance to his father, he portrayed him in the 2002 television movie The Rosa Parks Story. The actor had a love for the creative arts and initially relocated to California to pursue a career in acting. But family duty called and he answered, living out the rest of his life balancing both his love of the arts and his duties to the King family legacy.

At a private ceremony in July of 2013, he married his best friend and longtime partner, Leah Weber. Mrs. Leah Weber King is a New Orleans native, former broadcast journalist, entrepreneur, and consultant. Together they built a life of love, support and unconditional love, much like that of Dexter’s mother and father.

He was preceded in death by his father (1968), his mother (2006) and sister Yolanda (2007). He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 11 years Leah Weber King, his sister Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, his brother Martin Luther King, III, and his niece, Yolanda Renee King.

The King family requests privacy at this time and will respond to media inquiries following a press conference planned for Tuesday January 23rd, at 10:00 am ET, at The King Center’s Yolanda D. King Theatre inside Freedom Hall.

A memorial service will be announced at a later time. —CL—