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Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest son Dexter has died at age 62

Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has died, according to statements from his family and the King Center.

The King Center confirmed in a statement the 62-year-old civil rights activist died Monday after a battle with prostate cancer.

The third child of Dr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King was married to Leah Weber King since 2013.

Weber King said in a statement from the King Center, “He transitioned peacefully in his sleep at home with me in Malibu.” She added, “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.”

Dexter’s older brother Martin Luther King III said in a statement, “I am deeply saddened to share that my brother, Dexter Scott King, has passed away. The sudden shock is devastating. It is hard to have the right words at a moment like this. Please keep the entire King family in your prayers, and in particular Dexter’s wife, Leah Weber.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he was “heartbroken to hear that Dexter King left us this morning, but I was comforted by the knowledge he is reunited with his parents and sister.”

Dexter’s mother, Coretta Scott King, died in 2006. His sister Yolanda Denise King died in 2007.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens also expressed his condolences to Dexter’s family. “His profound and unwavering love for his family positioned him as a guardian of his father and mother’s legacies,” the mayor said of Dexter in a news release.

“Dexter held various titles—Morehouse Man, humanitarian, Civil Rights activist, and even actor. However, above all, he was a devoted family man,” he said.

Coretta Scott King (L), widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., passes the Olympic Flame to her son Dexter Scott King on July 19, 1996, in Atlanta. - Michel Gangne/AFP/Getty Images
Coretta Scott King (L), widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., passes the Olympic Flame to her son Dexter Scott King on July 19, 1996, in Atlanta. - Michel Gangne/AFP/Getty Images

A graduate of Morehouse College, Dexter worked as chairman of The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, a nonprofit started by Coretta Scott King in the wake of her husband’s assassination, and president of the King Estate, according to King Center representatives.

Dexter had no children.

Dexter was just seven years old when his father was assassinated. He told CNN he had been watching TV with his older brother when a news flash interrupted, announcing his father had been shot in Memphis.

“It was a very chaotic and traumatic period,” he said.

Dexter previously told CNN bearing his revolutionary father’s name could be both a blessing and a curse.

After his father’s killing, some people would tell young Dexter they expected him to follow his father’s path, he said in 2003.

“People would say, ‘I want you to be just like your father,’ or ‘You should be a minister,’” he said.

Martin Luther King Jr. poses for a family portrait with his daughter Yolanda Denise King, son Dexter Scott King, his wife Coretta Scott King and son Martin Luther King III at their home in Atlanta in July 1962. - TPLP/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Martin Luther King Jr. poses for a family portrait with his daughter Yolanda Denise King, son Dexter Scott King, his wife Coretta Scott King and son Martin Luther King III at their home in Atlanta in July 1962. - TPLP/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Dexter’s career has intertwined with his father’s legacy, cowriting a book, “Growing Up King: An Intimate Memoir,” and even acting as his father in a 2002 film, “The Rosa Parks Story.”

In addition to continuing his father’s civil rights work, Dexter was a vocal vegan and advocate for animal rights throughout his life. In a 1995 interview with The Vegetarian Times, he said his diet was an extension of his nonviolent beliefs. “There is a connection between how you live life and how you treat others,” he told the magazine. “It starts with the individual.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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