FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2018
LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY MOURNS THE LOSS OF FELICIA KAHN
Baton Rouge, LA – Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, released the following statement Thursday on the passing of Felicia Kahn, a lifelong activist for women’s rights in Louisiana and delegate for past Democratic conventions.
“Our hearts are broken upon learning the news of the passing of Felicia Kahn,” Peterson said.
“I was born a Democrat, but Felicia Kahn helped raise me into the Democrat I am today. She was a prominent part of my rise in public service and inspired my commitment to women’s equality, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Before I was even old enough to vote, I attended political organizing meetings led by Felicia. Her example made me long to become an advocate for the causes we shared.
“She encouraged me, inspired me, and collaborated with me on anything I asked of her. May we all be a little more like Felicia Kahn today and every day as a tribute to her legacy. There is a special place in heaven for this phenomenal woman who made a permanent mark on our city, state, nation, and me!”
Additional Information on the Life of Felicia Kahn:
90-year-old La. delegate reflects on advances for women | The Daily Advertiser
Kahn said the role of women at party conventions has changed over the decades she’s been involved in politics.
“I’ve seen a lot. It’s so exciting,” said Kahn. “What I’ve done over the years is to see the women’s place in the Democratic Party grow and grow and grow. To be there when women were hardly recognized and then to get to (this) place… it’s sort of like my dreams have been fulfilled.”
“My hope for Democrats is that we show that we’re together … and that we have to remain upbeat and we think that life can be improved and that the country can be better with high-quality people who are interested in doing something about the environment and the economy and the lives of people,”
But beginning in the 1950s, she volunteered for the non-partisan League of Women Voters, serving as president in 1966-69, when she became a habitué of newsrooms, pushing for coverage, and traveled to Baton Rouge to lobby the legislature on issues such as voting, school integration and poverty programs.
She eventually decided to leave LWV so she could participate in partisan politics. “The feminist movement came along in the 1960s. Books by Betty Friedan and others made me aware. After the convention fiasco in 1968 in Chicago, the Democratic Party reorganized and changed rules.” Kahn won an election for State Central Committee in 1971. “I got interested in women in politics. That’s still my issue, to get more women speaking out.”
She admits her energy isn’t as great as it used to be. “But I see my life as an activist. I can encourage people to do things. I like to get people together who have similar interests and can benefit from each other.”
Kahn was a volunteer in Moon Landrieu’s campaign for mayor in 1970 where she took on all assignments, including licking envelopes. “I was so pleased that Moon’s campaign included members of the total community, which was a first,” explained Kahn. Along with Carolyn Kolb, she later clipped newspaper articles for Congresswoman Lindy Boggs and others.
In 1972, she worked with the biracial National Women’s Political Caucus to encourage women to attend the Democratic convention. “We were just starting to realize how important the conventions are to the country’s future.”
Kahn joined Jimmy’s Carter’s campaign in 1976 and was a Carter appointee to the convention’s Rules Committee. She also began to meet people from around the country who thought differently about women’s roles. That same year, Kahn threw her name in the race for the Louisiana Legislature but lost to Clyde Bell. “I ran a low-budget campaign but it was a great experience.”
In 2010, Kahn revived the Independent Women’s Organization after a period of inactivity and became its president at age 84. Kahn thought she might be too old to be in charge, but the members unanimously selected her. IWO is now almost 250 women strong.
Kahn feels blessed to have witnessed all the strides women made during the last 90 years. “Women play an important role in society. It is absolutely essential that a woman be elected president.”