Wendy Gladney (Courtesy Photo)

By now, we have all heard about the passing of Dexter, the son of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King. He passed away at the young age of 62 from battling prostate cancer.   

He leaves behind a wife, sister Bernice, and brother Martin III. He was preceded in death by both his parents and his sister Yolanda.  

Years ago, I ran into Dexter in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.  Interestingly, at the time, I was the event manager for King Week for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (SCLC-GLA) and I had my event binder in my hand.   

When I saw him, I said, “Hello, Mr. King,” and he asked did we know one another. I said,  “No, but of course, I know who you are.” He smiled and then noticed his father’s image on the cover of my binder.  I explained who I was and that I had a meeting at the hotel that day regarding keeping the memory and work of his father alive.   

Later that afternoon, he stopped back by where I was meeting, and he asked if when I finished if I would be interested in grabbing dinner together.  After learning that we had a couple of friends in common, I said that would be nice. He asked if I liked Thai food and that he knew of a nice quaint Thai restaurant nearby.  

He appeared to have healthy eating habits, but the battle he faced with prostate cancer was probably something he was battling for many years. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 300,000 new cases are diagnosed per year.  There have been men in my family that have also dealt with prostate cancer.  Some have survived and thrived while others were taken over by the disease and did not make it. 

Studies show that we do not know exactly what causes prostate cancer, but it is said that African American men are at higher risk of getting it.  In its early stages, there may not be any real symptoms, but as it progresses, it may become difficult to urinate, there may be blood in your urine, and you may experience pain in various areas of your body.  

It is important to get regular checkups and if there has been a history of any type of cancer in your family you should request being screened specifically for prostate cancer as you get older.  It is not uncommon that we get regular colon cancer screening and screening for breast cancer, men should be screened regularly for prostate cancer as well. 

Treatment for prostate cancer differs based on when it is detected and the overall health of the individual.  It is important to develop healthy lifestyle habits, keep your weight down, avoid tobacco, and of course be diligent about seeing your doctor on a regular basis.  Make annual checkups with your doctor part of your life.  Although some things may not be preventable, the sooner we become aware of what is happening in our bodies the better chance we have of fighting it and living a longer and more productive life. 

Dexter King lived a productive life and although he died a relatively young man, I think 62 is young, he did his best to not only keep the work and dream of his parents alive, but he also in his own right was known as an American civil and animal rights activist.   

During his lifetime he also served as the chairman of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change as well as explored other interests.  He is now rejoined with his sister, mother, father, and the ancestors that have gone on before him.   

Rest in Power, Dexter.  I am glad I had the opportunity to meet you and sit down at the table and break bread.   

Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on. 


Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker.