ELKLAND — Nearly 20 people took to the streets here Tuesday morning for a Black Lives Matter protest. The protest was organized by 17-year-olds Grace Morgan and Chloe Southard.

The girls, both students at Williamson Area High School, have taken African-American studies and felt it was important to make a stand for equality. They had seen protests in larger areas and wanted to participate but weren’t able to. Instead, they decided to organize a peaceful protest march in their hometown.

“We decided that for our area this would be a good change because no one really talks about issues like this,” Morgan said.

The girls have tried to stay informed about equality issues and seeing the protests in other areas, it was important to them to spread awareness in Elkland.

“Grace and I have always educated ourselves on this. We are very passionate about it, but having taken African-American studies made us want to push even more for equality,” Southard said.

The girls started organizing the march using a group chat. The group members stayed in contact with each other and decided when and where they would protest.

“Everyone who joined put in the effort and made it work,” Morgan said. Morgan added that the march wouldn’t have been possible without all the support they received and that it wouldn’t have been as effective without all the people who participated.

As they marched through town, the girls said they were pleased with the community response. They expected they might get some backlash, but they said the overwhelming response was positive. There was the occasional dirty look or hand gesture, but the girls said they didn’t let that get to them.

“We want to spread positivity; we don’t want to get in arguments with anyone,” Morgan said.

Afterward both Morgan and Southard were with happy with how the protest went.

“I think it was really successful. It remained peaceful and I think we really got our point across,” Morgan said.

Looking ahead, Southard said she hopes the peaceful protest encourages people to be more open minded about equality.

They said if they do have another protest in the future they want to spread the word on Facebook to hopefully reach more people.