Civil rights icons, leaders honor Dexter Scott King as ‘guardian’ of family’s legacy

ATLANTA — Dexter Scott King is being remembered as a “guardian of his father and mother’s legacies.” King died Monday at age 62 after battling prostate cancer.

He was living in California, but his life’s impact was being felt here in metro Atlanta.

A man who knew both him and his father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said Dexter King had a significant responsibility -- protecting his father’s legacy.

Ambassador Andrew Young remembers Dexter King as a good boy who grew to be a great man. He told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen time and again that many people would do a double-take when they saw him.

“There was no question he looked most like his father. He even talked like his father,” Young said.

Young remembers the boy who was only 7 years old when his father was assassinated, and the man who inherited his father’s legacy.

“He spent most of his life trying to protect that legacy,” Young said.

Young said Dexter’s role as the longtime chairman of the King Center was the perfect place to handle that responsibility.

He was a civil rights leader, an author, and an actor.

Dexter King graduated from Frederick Douglass High School, and like his father, was a Morehouse man.

Young said the father would have been very proud of the son.

“I think he’s proud of the way his family carried on in his absence. But again, I always say we are not in his absence,” Young said.


Xernona Clayton helped Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. coordinate marches and served as a trusted friend.

She told Channel 2′s Karyn Greer that she was at a loss for words Monday afternoon when she heard Dexter King lost his battle with prostate cancer.

“I was just sick, well, for lots of reasons,” Clayton said. “One is, for the Kings to have another tragedy is sad at any point. Dexter was one of those sweet guys, was just ambitious from a youngster. He was going to solve all the problems of the world. I remember when he was in college, the first year in college he said he was going to solve everything, and he went on to explain to me all the things he was going to do.”

Clayton says despite the loss, she knows the King family will make sure Dexter King’s legacy will shine on.

“They are a fruitful family, a productive family, an imaginative family, a blessed family. So, I guess this will be another moment to test their strength,” Clayton said.

Clayton also remembered a story where Dexter and Martin pleaded with their father not to leave on a trip to Memphis. She was there to drive him to the airport.

She said it was as if Dexter and Martin Luther King III knew their father would not return home.

She said he truly was a visionary and will be missed.

His sister, Dr. Bernice King, tweeted out a statement late Monday afternoon, saying:

“I cannot express the heartbreak I feel from losing another sibling, my brother, Dexter. I’m praying for strength to get through this very difficult time.”

The family told Channel 2 Action News it is still finalizing funeral plans for Dexter King.

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