The events surrounding Special Agent “Kiki” Camarena’s murder sparked a grass roots campaign to reduce the demand for drugs and encourage a healthy, violence-free lifestyle across the United States. Saddened by Kiki’s death, his friends, family and people in the hometown of Calexico, California began wearing Red Ribbons in his honor. This raised the consciousness of the destruction caused by drugs.
Congressman Duncan Hunter and high school teacher David Dhillon launched “Camarena Clubs” in California high schools. Club members pledged to lead lives free from drug abuse to honor the sacrifices made by Kiki and others on behalf of all Americans. In 1985, club members presented the “Camarena Club Proclamation” to then First Lady Nancy Reagan, bringing it national attention. Later that summer, parent groups in California, Illinois, and Virginia began promoting the wearing of Red Ribbons nationwide during late October.
In 1988, the National Family Partnership organized the first National Red Ribbon Week, an eight-day event proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by President and Mrs. Reagan.
Today the Red Ribbon Campaign symbolizes support for efforts to reduce demand for drugs through prevention and education programs. Each year from October 23rd to October 31st thousands of schools, communities and drug abuse prevention organizations throughout the country distribute red ribbons to honor Special Agent Camarena’s memory and visibly show a dedication to avoid drug abuse.
Why October 23-31?
October 1988 – U.S. Senate Joint Resolution 329 became Public Law 100 – 455 by Presidential Proclamation 5883. This law designated the last week of October as National Red Ribbon Week. Since then a series of annual Congressional resolutions have reaffirmed the last week of October as Red Ribbon Week.
For more information regarding Red Ribbon Week, including videos to present at your school, please click on the Resources Tab.