Dexter King’s Life and Legacy Celebrated by Friends and Family, Stevie Wonder Performs

Family, friends and Ebenezer Baptist Church congregants held a special Candlelight service on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, to mark the passing of and celebrate the life of Dexter Scott King, 62, and youngest son of Dr. Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. Scott King succumbed to prostate cancer after a three-and-half-year battle with the disease and only one week after the national celebration of his famed father’s birthday on Jan. 15.

The younger King’s remarkable life and legacy has been marked worldwide by local, national and global leaders since his death on Jan. 22 and supporters took part in a special ceremony for the “Keeper of the Dream” at the church located on historic Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. Lead by the remaining King children, Martin lll and Dr. Berniece King, and Scott King’s wife Leah, a host of celebrants including Ambassador Andrew, Sen. Ralph Warnock and entertainment legend Stevie Wonder, marked the event with an outpouring of remembrances and tributes.

“Dexter King was 62 years old when he passed and he was seven when his father passed,” explained former Atlanta mayor, U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young. “It really is rough growing up not only without a father, but with the expectations that your father was … a political savior of this nation, and we don’t want to do it, but we always look to the children to what their fathers did,” said Young. “It didn’t happen with the Kennedy’s it didn’t happen with anybody, but Dr. King’s children have done extremely well in following in his footsteps … Dexter took it upon himself as he grew older to be responsible for that legacy. … He took it upon himself to protect the right to use his [father’s] name respectfully at a very young age,” Young continued noting that the King Children, Dexter, Martin lll, Berniece and Yolanda King who died in 2007, had done a remarkable job of protecting and securing the slain civil rights leader’s papers documenting his contribution to human rights.

King’s sister, Dr. Berniece King, CEO of the King Center in Atlanta noted that her brother’s passing had profoundly impacted the surviving members of the King family. “Dexter had an inquisitive mind … and he wasn’t satisfied with surface answers. Dexter was searching for something deeper and those were the only seeds of him becoming an analytical and brilliant and consummate strategist par excellence,” Rev. Berneice King said of her younger brother who she admits frequently engaged in lengthy discussions with family members and Kingian Non-Violence practitioners about the importance of continuing the fight for justice without hesitation or pause.

Leah King, the activist and author’s widow delivered a poignant tribute to her husband before iconic singer and songwriter performed his hit song, They Won’t’ Go When I Go.” Wonder has been an ardent supporter of the King family and its efforts to realize the dream of Dr. King, frequently lending his celebrity and international influence to advance the civil rights movement including helping to get Dr. M.L. King’s birthday recognized as a federal holiday.

Photo credit: Michele Fling

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