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The Birth of the “Just Say No” Movement

On a cold, rainy morning in January 1985, a group of children at Peralta Year Round School in Oakland, California were discussing drugs and peer pressure with two representatives of Oakland Parents in Action.

The children viewed a film on a visit to their school by First Lady Nancy Reagan the summer before. In it, Mrs. Reagan observed that one way to counter peer pressure was to “just say no.” During the conversation that followed, one of the students suggested, “Why don’t we start a just say no club?” With that, the first “Just Say No” Club was born and a national movement was launched.

The events that followed in rapid secession were beyond the wildest dreams of anyone in Oakland that winter day. Reflecting the universal appeal of the “Just Say no” concept, the Clubs were embraced by communities throughout the country. What began with Clubs in some school in Oakland multiplied into an estimated 12,000 Clubs nationwide before the original Club’ss second anniversary.


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