Dexter King

Last updated
Dexter King
Dexter King 1999.jpg
King in 1999
Dexter Scott King

(1961-01-30) January 30, 1961 (age 60)
Education Morehouse College
OccupationCivil rights activist, advocate
Known forSon of Martin Luther King Jr.
Chairman, The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
Leah Weber
(m. 2013)
Parent(s) Martin Luther King Jr. (father)
Coretta Scott King (mother)
Relatives Yolanda Denise King (sister)
Martin Luther King Sr. (paternal grandfather)
Martin Luther King III (brother)
Bernice Albertine King (sister)
Alveda King (paternal first cousin)
Edythe Scott Bagley (maternal aunt)
James Albert King (paternal great-grandfather)

Dexter Scott King (born January 30, 1961) is an American civil rights activist and the second son of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. King is also the brother of Martin Luther King III, Bernice King, and Yolanda King.


Early life

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and named after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father was pastor before moving to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. [2] His eldest sister Yolanda watched after him. [3] He was seven years old when his father was assassinated. King and his siblings were assured an education thanks to the help of Harry Belafonte, who set up a trust fund for them years prior to their father's death. [4] King attended the Democratic National Convention in 1972, which led him to gain an interest in politics. [5]


Dexter Scott King went to Douglass High School, where he played the trumpet. [6]

King attended Morehouse College, his late father's alma mater. He studied business administration, but did not graduate. He later became an actor and documentary filmmaker.


King splits his time between Atlanta, Georgia, where he serves as chairman of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and Malibu, California. [7]

In May 1989, King's mother named the twenty-eight-year-old as her successor as president of the King Center. Before his mother's choice, King openly expressed interest in changing the King Center into "a West Point of nonviolent training". [8] [9] Dexter Scott King served as president of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, but resigned only four months after taking the office after a dispute with her. He resumed the position in 1994, but the King Center's influence was sharply reduced by then. [7] As President, he cut the number of staff from 70 to 14 and shut down a child care center among a shift from conventional activities to prioritizing preserving his father's legacy. Reflecting, King admitted that the time was not right since he was "probably moving faster than the board was ready to". [10]

Dexter has been a dedicated vegan [11] and animal rights activist since the late 1980s. [12]

He attended the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28, 2013, the event at which his father delivered his I Have a Dream speech.


Dexter Scott King portrayed his father and Civil rights movement activist Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2002 American television movie The Rosa Parks Story , and even voiced his father's 34-year-old self in the 1999 educational film, Our Friend, Martin .

Support of conspiracy theory

In 1997, 29 years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, Dexter met with James Earl Ray, the man imprisoned for his father's 1968 murder. When confronting him, King asked Ray, "I just want to ask you, for the record, um, did you kill my father?" Ray replied, "No-no I didn't." King then told Ray that he along with the rest of the King family believed him. [13] [14] King and Ray had then discussed the latter's health and the actions of J. Edgar Hoover. [15] King also told him that his family believed in his testament of innocence and were seeking to help him. The two spoke privately after 25 minutes with reporters, and King asserted to reporters that he did not know who killed his father and that this uncertainty was the cause of their request for a new trial. [16] As he asserted that he did not believe Ray had any role in his father's death, he brought up evidence taken from the scene such as the murder weapon and concluded that Ray would not have disposed of it near the scene of the crime, calling his belief as having been in his "gut". [17]

At a 1999 press conference, Dexter was subsequently asked by a reporter, "there are many people out there who feel that as long as these conspirators remain nameless and faceless there is no true closure, and no justice". He replied:

No, he (Loyd Jowers) named the shooter. The shooter was the Memphis Police Department Officer, Lt. Earl Clark who he named as the killer. Once again, beyond that you had credible witnesses that named members of a Special Forces team who didn't have to act because the contract killer succeeded, with plausible denial, a Mafia contracted killer. [18]

His belief towards a conspiracy extended to President Lyndon B. Johnson. [19] He believed that with the evidence he was shown, there would be difficulty "for something of that magnitude to occur on his watch and he not be privy to it". [20] King pursued Andrew Young to get him involved, and Young changed his position on the assassination of his father after being visited by Dexter in the spring of 1997. His position had always been "that it didn't matter who killed Dr. King but what killed him". [21]


Dexter charged the Atlanta-Journal Constitution with "viciously attacking" his family after the newspaper printed a claim by a German television program that his sister Bernice wanted $4,000 or $5,000 for a ten-minute interview, which King denied. [22]

King's mother, Coretta Scott King, died on January 30, 2006, at the age of 78 on his 45th birthday.

Dexter's elder sister, Yolanda, collapsed at the home of his best friend, Philip Madison Jones, on May 15, 2007. King called his aunt Christine King Ferris and reported that he had tried to save her, but was not successful and was transporting her to the hospital. [23] She could not be revived and died at the age of 51. Her family believes she had a heart condition. Dexter spoke to her just an hour before her death, and did not think much of it when she told him she was tired due to her "hectic" schedule. [24] In regards to his sister's passing and the role she had played in his life, King stated

She gave me permission. She allowed me to give myself permission to be me". [25]

It was reported in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that in July 2013, Dexter married his fiancée Leah Weber in a private ceremony in California. [1]


On July 11, 2008, Dexter King was sued by his sister Bernice Albertine King and brother Martin Luther King III; in addition, he was sued by Bernice King on behalf of the estate of Coretta King. The lawsuit alleged that Dexter King improperly took funds from the estate of Coretta King and his father Martin Luther King Jr. On August 18, 2008, Dexter King filed a countersuit stating his siblings had "breached their fiduciary and personal duties to the King Center in Atlanta and their father’s estate, misused assets belonging to the center, and kept money that should have been channeled back into the center and the estate". [26]

These lawsuits were filed in Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court [27] and were settled out of court in October 2009. In 2010, the three supported that year's census, seemingly indicating they had reaffirmed their relationships since the dispute. [28]



King (1978)


Literary works

Related Research Articles

Martin Luther King Jr. American civil rights activist and leader

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. King advanced civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. He was the son of early civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Sr.

Coretta Scott King American author, activist, and civil rights leader; wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. As an advocate for African-American equality, she was a leader for the civil rights movement in the 1960s. King was also a singer who often incorporated music into her civil rights work. King met her husband while attending graduate school in Boston. They both became increasingly active in the American civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park United States historic place

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park covers about 35 acres (0.14 km2) and includes several buildings in Atlanta, Georgia related to the life and work of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Within the park is his boyhood home and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where King was baptized and both his father Martin Luther King Sr. and he were pastors.

Martin Luther King III American civil rights activist

Martin Luther King III is an American human rights advocate. As the oldest son and oldest living child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, King served as the 4th President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1997 to 2004.

Bernice King American minister and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.

Bernice Albertine King is an American minister and the youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She was five years old when her father was assassinated. In her adolescence, King chose to work towards becoming a minister after having a breakdown from watching a documentary about her father. King was 17 when she was invited to speak at the United Nations. Twenty years after her father was assassinated, she preached her trial sermon, inspired by her parents' activism.

Yolanda King American activist (1955-2007)

Yolanda Denise King was an African American activist and first-born child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She was also known for her artistic and entertainment endeavors and public speaking. Her childhood experience was greatly influenced by her father's highly public and influential activism.

Moneta Sleet Jr.

Moneta J. Sleet Jr. was an American press photographer best known for his work as a staff photographer for Ebony magazine. In 1969 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his photograph of Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, at her husband's funeral. Sleet was the first African-American man to win the Pulitzer, and the first African American to win the award for journalism. He died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 70.

<i>King</i> (miniseries)

King is a 1978 American television miniseries based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the American civil rights leader. It aired for three consecutive nights on NBC from February 12 through 14, 1978.

King Center for Nonviolent Social Change

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, commonly known as The King Center, is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization in Atlanta, United States.

Christine King Farris

Willie Christine King Farris is the eldest sibling of Martin Luther King Jr. She taught at Spelman College and is the author of several books and was a public speaker on various topics, including the King family, multicultural education, and teaching.

Sermons and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

The sermons and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., comprise an extensive catalog of American writing and oratory – some of which are internationally well-known, while others remain unheralded and await rediscovery.

James Earl Ray American assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.

James Earl Ray was an American criminal who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Ray was convicted in 1969 after entering a guilty plea—thus forgoing a jury trial and the possibility of a death sentence—and was sentenced to 99 years of imprisonment.

Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. 1968 shooting at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Martin Luther King Jr., an African-American clergyman and civil rights leader, was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at 6:01 p.m. CST. He was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died at 7:05 p.m. He was a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was known for his use of nonviolence and civil disobedience.

Edythe Scott Bagley

Edythe Scott Bagley was an American author, activist, and educator. The older sister of Coretta Scott King, she worked behind the scenes to promote the Civil Rights Movement and was actively involved in many of the crucial events of that era.

Ebenezer Baptist Church Church in Georgia, United States

Ebenezer Baptist Church is a Baptist church located in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, affiliated with the Progressive National Baptist Convention and American Baptist Churches USA. It was the church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was co-pastor from 1960 until his assassination in 1968, the location of the funerals of both Dr. King and congressman John Lewis, and the church for which United States Senator Raphael Warnock has been pastor since 2005. It is located in the historic area now designated as the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park.

Death and funeral of Coretta Scott King

On January 30, 2006, Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., died after arriving at a rehabilitation center in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. Her public funeral followed eight days later at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in her resident state of Georgia. In keeping with her personal wishes, King was buried next to her husband in a crypt on the grounds of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Attallah Shabazz is the eldest daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She is an actress, author, diplomat, and motivational speaker.

Martin Luther King Jr. assassination conspiracy theories Aspect of Martin Luther King Jr.s death

The conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a prominent leader of the civil rights movement, relate to different accounts of his assassination that took place on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, the day after giving his final speech "I've Been to the Mountaintop". Claims soon arose over suspect aspects of King's assassination and the controversial role of the alleged assassin, James Earl Ray. Although his guilty plea eliminated the possibility of a trial before a jury, within days, Ray had recanted and claimed his confession was forced. Suspicions were further raised by the confirmation of illegal surveillance of King by the FBI and the CIA.

The Loyd Jowers Trial was an American civil suit brought by the family of Martin Luther King Jr. against Loyd Jowers, following his claims of a conspiracy in the assassination of the civil rights leader in 1968. The jury would eventually decide in 1999 that there was a conspiracy perpetrated by Jowers and other conspirators.

Statue of Martin Luther King Jr. (Atlanta)

The Martin Luther King Jr. statue is a public monument of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia. The statue, designed by Martin Dawe, was unveiled in 2017 and stands on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol, overlooking Liberty Plaza.


  1. 1 2 Poole, Sheila; Ernie Suggs (July 15, 2013). "Dexter King marries longtime girlfriend Leah Weber". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  2. "King, Dexter Scott". The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. 2017-06-12. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  3. "First Christmas without him. Inside MLK's home in 1968". Youtube.
  4. "King's Kids Assured Education by Belafonte". Jet. April 18, 1968.
  5. Dexter Scott King. Ebony. January 1987.
  6. "Martin Luther King's Son Makes Rap Record For His Holiday". Jet. December 9, 1985.
  7. 1 2 Firestone, David. "A civil rights group suspends, then reinstates, its president." The New York Times , July 26, 2001. Retrieved on 2008-08-28.
  8. "Rev. King's Son, Dexter, Resigns From Position as President of the King Center". Jet. August 28, 1989.
  9. "Son Dexter To Take Reign of The King Center in Atlanta". Jet. February 6, 1989.
  10. Dyson, p. 270.
  11. "A King Among Men," in Vegetarian Times, October 1995, Issue 218, p. 128.
  12. "".
  13. Today in History March 27 at Youtube
  14. Sack, Kevin (28 March 1997). "Dr. King's Son Says Family Believes Ray Is Innocent". The New York Times . Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  15. Harrison, Eric (March 28, 1997). "King's Son Meets Ray, Agrees He's Not Assassin". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
  16. Dexter King Visits James Earl Ray in Prison; Says He Believes Ray is Innocent. Jet. April 14, 1997.
  17. Who Killed King?. Ebony. May 1997.
  18. "The Transcription of the King Family Press Conference on the MLK Assassination Trial Verdict". Archived from the original on September 1, 2009.
  19. Sack, Kevin (June 20, 1997). "Son of Dr. King Asserts L.B.J. Role in Plot". The New York Times.
  20. "Dexter King: I Think LBJ Knew About Assassination". Orlando Sentinel. June 20, 1997.
  21. Curry, pp. 489-490.
  22. Dyson, p. 261.
  23. Farris, p. 189.
  24. Haines, Errin (May 24, 2007). "Hundreds Mourn Eldest of King Children". The Washington Post.
  25. "Hundreds pay tribute to Yolanda King". USA Today. May 24, 2007.
  26. "AJC Homepage".
  27. "EarthLink - Top News".
  28. "2010 Census Message: The King Family". Youtube. May 4, 2010.

Works cited