Americans of all colors must come together to solve today's problems or the future will be economically and socially poorer, Milton Kimpson said Friday at a benefit for the Salt Lake Branch of the NAACP.

By 2020 the majority of children coming into the public education system will come from poorer families of three to seven children, Kimpson said. Presently, most of the children in the public schools are from the families of the middle class with one to three children.At stake is nothing less than the democratic way of life and the social welfare system, because if young people aren't educated and productive they will not contribute to the system, but in all likelihood burden it, said Kimpson.

"America is a country that believes in defense. But democracy can't exist without healthy, educated people. The greatest defense for democracy would be for all its people to have good health care and good available education," Kimpson said

Kimpson was the associate commissioner of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and is currently the deputy commissioner for program services for the South Carolina Department of Corrections. He spoke to about 220 people gathered for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Salt Lake Branch's 71st annual Life Membership and Freedom Fund Banquet.

The problem with the present education system is that it isn't flexible enough, he said. Several years ago while working with the Columbia, S.C., Chamber of Commerce, he took a group of local business leaders on a tour through the city's most blighted areas.

They came across a 5-year-old girl who kept house and took care of her two younger siblings while their mother worked as a domestic. The girl was in Kimpson's son's first-grade class, and while he made straight A's, the little girl was held back.

`But my son couldn't change a diaper or keep a house,' Kimpson said. The school wasn't prepared to make adjustments for the talents and maturity of the little girl.

Kimpson, the son of a sharecropper, said there is nothing wrong with making allowances to help the underprivileged get a step forward. "If I had had to take a test to get into college, I would have failed. But now, no one will beat me in math, no one will beat me in reading, no one will beat me in analytic thinking."

The Albert B. Fritz Civil Rights Worker of the Year Award went to the branch's secretary, Florence Lawrence. The President's Award went to James Green, who serves on the branch's board of directors, and to Emma Houston, who serves as the branch's corresponding secretary.