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King Center, Dr. Martin Luther King, Prostate Cancer, Black Men

Source: Prince Williams / Getty

Dexter Scott King, the youngest son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King passed away on Jan. 22 after a “valiant battle with prostate cancer,” according to representatives from the King Center. The civil rights activist and attorney was 62 years old.

Dexter was the chairman of the King Center, a not-for-profit and eLearning platform centered on Dr. King’s principles of non-violence and peaceful protest. He was also the President of the King Estate. The community activist “transitioned peacefully” at his home in Malibu on Monday, according to his wife of 11 years, Leah Weber King.

“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,” she added.

King’s unexpected passing sent shock waves through social media on Monday. Netizens on X shared their condolences and some Black men and prostate cancer survivors urged for men in the community to attend their yearly screenings.

“Black men prostate cancer is so treatable and curable if caught early,” one user penned. “Get yourself checked please.”

Another netizen commented, “Prayers for the King family. As a prostate cancer survivor, I encourage all my brothers over 40 to get your annual PSA test.” The user was referring to a Prostate Antigen Test which measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood, according to The Mayo Clinic.

 

Black men are disproportionately impacted by prostate cancer.

Black men are 70% more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and twice as likely to die from the disease, according to The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) notes. Delays between screening, diagnosis and treatment often contribute to the huge health disparity.

“The higher risk may be related to social and environmental issues involving nutrition, access to health care, and exposure to environmental pollutants,” Vincent Laudone, MSK’s Chief of Surgery at the Josie Robertson Surgery Center says. “Disparities in outcomes also can be affected by differences in when the cancer is diagnosed and how the men are treated after diagnosis.”

Many Black men may refrain from undergoing prostate cancer screening due to a combination of factors, including fear and mistrust of the healthcare system, lack of insurance, and insufficient knowledge about prostate treatment and screening, according to the American Cancer Association. The screening process can be daunting and uncomfortable for some patients if they are selected to undergo a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) which is when a healthcare provider examines the rectum to check for abnormal growth and inflammation, but screenings and early prevention can save lives.

Dexter Scott King’s legacy.

 

Born on January 30, 1961, in Atlanta, Dexter Scott King was named after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father began his first pastorate. The 62-year-old was the second son of Dr. & Mrs. King and the youngest of their three children. The civil rights leader was 7 years old when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN in 1968.

As the offspring of Civil Rights icons, he assumed the responsibility of preserving and extending the legacy established by his father. His life’s dedication revolved around safeguarding the intellectual property (IP) that Dr. King left behind. His profound understanding of intellectual property law and its management and licensing reflected his unwavering commitment to the assigned task and the enduring memory of his father and mother.

“Known to be humble about his uncanny resemblance to his father, he portrayed him in the 2002 television movie, The Rosa Parks Story,” the King Center’s statement read. At one point during his career, Dexter moved to California to pursue his dream of acting, but “family duty called and he answered” and continued to help his family live out the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

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