Dexter Scott King, the youngest son and third child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, has died. He was 62.
King passed away peacefully at his home in California on Monday after a “valiant battle with prostate cancer,” according to the King Center.
King was the third of his family’s four children and is survived by his younger sister, Rev. Bernice A. King, older brother Martin Luther King III, and wife Leah Weber King.
“He gave it everything and battled this terrible disease until the end,” his wife said in a statement. “As with all the challenges in his life, he faced this hurdle with bravery and might.”
“The sudden shock is devastating. It is hard to have the right words at a moment like this,” Martin Luther King III said in a statement.
King was named after Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., where his father served as pastor when he emerged as a civil rights leader following the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks.
King was just 7 years old when his father was assassinated in 1968, and wrote in his 2004 memoir that his father’s murder felt like the end of his childhood. “Ever since I was seven, I’ve felt I must be formal,” he wrote.
As an adult, King “devoted his life to the continued perpetuation of his father’s legacy,” particularly his father’s intellectual property, according to the King Center. He served as both chairman of the center and president of the King estate, though not without controversy.
He had dropped out of Morehouse College, his father’s alma mater, and some members of the King Center’s board said he wasn’t qualified for the jobs. Eight months after taking control of the center in 1988, he quit. He would return to the board in 1995.
King was also an actor, whose stark resemblance of his father wasn’t lost on the public. He portrayed the civil rights legend in the 2002 movie “The Rosa Parks Story.”