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Obama honors civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

From R: VP Joe Biden, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama pay their respects at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue
From R: Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama and First lady Michelle Obama pause to pay their respects at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in the Capitol rotunda as they leave the 2013 Inaugural Luncheon following President Obama's inaugurat

President Barack Obama paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday as he assumed his second term on the holiday honoring the iconic civil rights leader.

Following a high-level luncheon in the wake of his swearing-in ceremony, Obama paused briefly in front of a bust of King -- who was assassinated on April 4, 1968 -- in the rotunda of the US Capitol.

Obama's official inauguration fell on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday that pays tribute to the African American perhaps most widely remembered for his stirring 1963 "I have a Dream" speech for racial equality.

Obama evoked King's memory in his inaugural address on the steps of the Capitol as he pressed for equal rights for women and gays, and for immigration reform.

"It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began," he said.

Moments earlier, while taking the oath of office, Obama raised his right hand and rested his left on Bibles once owned by King and Abraham Lincoln.

In another powerful symbol evoking civil rights, the invocation at the ceremony witnessed by hundreds of thousands was delivered by Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers.

In October 2011, King became the first African American to be honored with a monument along the National Mall in Washington.

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