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Since the country’s founding, black families have never been able to thrive. Slavery broke them apart by allowing family members to be sold at auctions to different owners, and by prohibiting slaves from legally marrying, since slaves were classified as property, not people. Millions of black family members were killed during slavery and the lynching era, from 1877 to 1950. The modern legal system separates black families at higher rates than other families through many methods, including disparate sentencing schemes. Black defendants often receive far longer sentences than similarly situated white defendants.