Keisha Johnson and other members of the National Council of Negro Women Inc. have teamed up to help remedy this situation.
Starting June 2, the organization will be sponsoring driving classes that are geared towards assisting individuals with obtaining a driver's license.
"We want to help people receive their driver's license. We are just teaching the written portion of the test. This will allow individuals to get their permit. We will provide transportation for participants to get to the driver's license office to take the written test," said Johnson.
According to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety a driver's permit, learner's permit, learner's license or provisional license, is a restricted license that is given to a person who is learning to drive, but has not yet satisfied the requirements to obtain a driver's license.
Having a driver's permit for a certain length of time is usually one of the requirements for applying for a full driver's license.
To get a learner's permit, one must typically pass a written permit test about rules of the road, although the process varies between jurisdictions.
"In the Mississippi Delta, there are not a lot of means of public transportation. You can't call a cab or get on a city bus to be transported to work; therefore, you need a license. It is almost a necessity for basic survival," said Johnson.
She said the class would be offered every Monday, during the month of June at 5 p.m., at the public library in Shelby.
"I have contacted a few mayors about this. I have retired teachers who have agreed to teach the class. I just recently contacted MDOT and the county because we need a car. These individuals are willing to teach the information," added Johnson.
She said she has been searching for various means of funding to aid with the program and to possibly purchase a vehicle
"I have been searching for various grants that will assist in the purchase of a used vehicle. If we are able to purchase the vehicle, then we will also teach individuals driving skills. I have also been contacting local churches and businesses – these entities may assist in the purchase of a vehicle so that we can do this program," she continued.
Johnson said there are a vast number of individuals that are unable to get jobs because they lack a driver's license.
"We see males standing around on street corners and we automatically think the worst of them because they are not employed but sometimes it is a matter of them not having certain resources," said Johnson.
"It is very important to have a driver's license because there are a large number of employers who will not hire you unless you have a driver's license. We want to combat this epidemic by ensuring that people have the necessary tools needed for success. Some people may feel that this is a minor issue but it is not," she added.
According to Johnson, there are a large amount of schools that have eliminated driver's education and this could be the reason why there are so many young adults that lack a license.
"I recently had a young man who desired to sign up for the program but he said that he did not read and write well, so it is definitely going to be a process. We want to do whatever we can to help," said Johnson.
"Of coarse there are some individuals who know how to drive but they do not have a license and this is a major issue because this means that they are driving illegally," she added.
Johnson also said she has been seeking assistance from Bolivar County officials to aid with the class.
"I have inquired about possibly using some of the old sheriff department cars or some police cars that may still be in working condition. It is a process but the key thing now is to start teaching information so that individuals can pass the written part of the test," she continued.
"There are so many factors affecting our youth and I just feel that this should not be one of them. We want to eliminate this issue," said Johnson.
For more information, contact Johnson at 662-641-0340.