This week: Martin Luther King Jr. answers questions history/science facts

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Projects and Pages for mid January:

black people marching with signs
Martin Luther King leading a
protest march

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: Happy Martin Luther King Jr. day! Find out more about the history of slavery in the United States, how black people were shut out of the Constitution, how the cotton gin made white people demand more slaves, the Civil War, how black people were forced into sharecropping after the war, and the Civil Rights movement.

DECIAN PERSECUTION BEGINS: January 20, 250 AD: This week is also the anniversary of the Decian persecution of 249 AD, when Christians in many provinces of the Roman Empire were forced to sacrifice to the Roman gods for the health of the emperor or face arrest, and sometimes execution. Famous victims of the Decian persecution include Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage in Africa, and St. Denis of Paris; probably all told a few dozen people were killed, but the persecution exposed the increasing reluctance of Mediterranean people to embrace sacrifice, and their increasing interest in monotheism.

painting of Chinese man sitting in a chair
Hongwu Emperor of Ming Dynasty China

THEODOSIUS: January 17, 395 AD: The Roman emperor Theodosius dies, leaving the empire to his two sons, Honorius and Arcadius.

MING DYNASTY BEGINS: January 23, 1368: The Hongwu Emperor takes control of China as the founder of the Ming Dynasty, which would last for three hundred years.

OTTOMANS CONQUER EGYPT: January 22, 1517 AD: Ottoman sultan Selim I defeats the Mamluks to get control of Egypt at the Battle of Ridaniya

AUSTRALIA: January 18, 1788 AD: First British convict ships arrive at Botany Bay in Australia. Britain had been shipping people convicted of minor crimes like shoplifting to North America, where they served their term as indentured servants, but after the American Revolution they couldn't send criminals to America anymore, so they started sending them to Australia instead.

LOUIS XVI KILLED: January 21, 1793: King Louis XVI of France was killed by a guillotine as part of the French Revolution.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK: Celebrate Martin Luther King Day by joining up with your local Black Lives Matter group or fighting for unions and fair wages.

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New page this week:

YAMNAYA: Not an entirely new page, but we did some work revising our page on the Yamnaya - the Indo-Europeans. These people started off in Central Asia - and some of them are still there. But others left starting about 3000 BC and settled in Europe, what is now Turkey, Iran, and India, marrying the people they found there. Some got as far as China, around 1500 BC. Wherever they went, the Yamnaya brought new ideas - the horse and chariot, the potter's wheel, and maybe writing too.

History Deals of the Week:

For Martin Luther King Day, check out this great biography of Dr. King. Or read children's books about the great man like Martin's Big Words or A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.. To see what King's legacy is to black people's situation today, read Ta-Nahesi Coates' wonderful book, Between the World and Me.

New discoveries this week:

NEANDERTHALS WERE PEOPLE TOO: A thoughtful article demonstrating that other than racism (or species-ism), there's really no reason to think Neanderthal people were any less people than our main ancestors were, or any less people than we are.

WOMAN DIED OF PREGNANCY INFECTION: When archaeologists first examined the skeleton of a woman who died at Troy about 1200 AD, they thought she died of tuberculosis. But DNA analysis showed that she actually died of sepsis - an infection she got when her pregnancy went wrong. Her baby boy died too, still unborn.

EARLIEST SILK: New excavations in Chinese tombs show evidence of silk fabric from 6500 BC, much earlier than the 3000s BC which was the earliest evidence of silk before this discovery. But people were already farming millet in Stone Age China by this time, so it's not so surprising that they used silk too. There were bone needles and weaving tools, too, but no actual evidence that the silk was woven into cloth.

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Seasonal food of the week:

SWEET POTATOES: Martin Luther King loved to eat sweet potatoes just plain, roasted in the oven. Try them yourself, or try some of these other great recipes for sweet potatoes: lamb stew with sweet potatoes (gluten-free), lentil and sweet potato stew (vegan and gluten-free), sweet potato fries, or sweet potato sauteed with eggplant and apples.

Also check out our seasonal and budget recipes at

Or, view an extensive range of science and history based educational and learning toys by visiting now.

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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support! (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

Happy New Year! Welcome back! Get ready for Martin Luther King day with these articles about medieval Africa, slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King Jr. himself. More about King here...