Vento, Adela Sloss (1901–1998)


By: Cynthia E. Orozco and Jazmin León

Type: Biography

Published: February 11, 2016

Updated: January 20, 2022


Adela Sloss-Vento, public intellectual, feminist, and civil rights activist, was born in Karnes City, Texas, on September 27, 1901, to Anselma Garza and David Henry Sloss. She graduated from Pharr-San Juan High School in 1927 and soon began working as a secretary for the mayor of the town of San Juan. She was involved in dismantling the red-light district located on the south side of town where the majority of  Mexican descent people lived. She also worked with the Good Government League to end ongoing corruption in the mayor’s office (see HIDALGO COUNTY REBELLION).

Shortly after the Harlingen Convention of 1927, Sloss contacted Mexican American attorney and civil rights activist Alonso S. Perales to express support for his efforts to unite various Mexican American civic and political organizations under a single banner. Through Perales, she also made contact with civil rights leaders José de la Luz Sáenz and J. T. Canales. Sloss began submitting political essays to various Spanish-language periodicals that spoke out against discrimination and championed the work of Perales, Sáenz, and Canales. As early as 1928 she was publicly lauded by La Prensa columnist Rudolfo Uranga for her “vigorous and well-documented defense of the Mexican people.” Sloss and Perales documented specific incidents of discrimination against Mexican Americans.

With the founding of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in 1929, Adela Sloss openly declared herself a part of its cause. Despite the fact that LULAC initially prohibited women, she participated in the organization’s activities, including the fundraising campaign for LULAC’s first legal desegregation fight, Del Rio ISD v. Salvatierra of the early 1930s. When LULAC finally allowed women to join as full-fledged members in 1933, Sloss promoted Ladies LULAC councils in Alice and other South Texas towns. While she did not join LULAC, she advocated non-discrimination.

She wrote articles for both English and Spanish-language newspapers across the state, including the Valley Morning Star/Harlingen Star, McAllen Monitor, Brownsville HeraldLa Prensa in San Antonio, and La Verdad of Corpus Christi. She addressed racial segregation, agribusiness exploitation of farm workers and braceros, forced migration of workers, pervasive racism encountered by the ethnic Mexican community, and the lack of attention these issues received from both the United States and Mexican governments. She wrote anti-fascist essays and pro-Pan Americanism articles during World War II. Sloss-Vento penned letters to the presidents of the U. S. and Mexico.

Her writing and activism demonstrated feminist inclinations. In 1934 she wrote an essay for LULAC News in which she condemned male privilege and women’s “slavery” in the home. She also praised the rise of Chicana feminism in the 1970s.

In 1935 Adela Sloss married Pedro C. Vento, who supported her involvement in the Mexican American civil rights movement. During World War II the couple lived in Corpus Christi, where Pedro worked at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. Afterwards, they settled in Edinburg, Texas, where Pedro headed the Hidalgo County jail and Adela served as jail matron. They had two children, Irma Dora Vento and Arnoldo Carlos Vento—both obtained doctorates. 

Sloss-Vento continued her work as an activist, public intellectual, and political organizer throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In McAllen she presided over the Citizens’ Political Club which sought to elect Mexican American officials in the early 1940s. She protested the report “The Wetback in the Lower Rio Grande Valley” in the early 1950s. She retired from her position as Hidalgo County jail matron in 1955 but continued to participate in grassroots-level politics and publish essays and letters until 1990. She advocated the legacy of Alonso S. Perales who passed away in 1960. This effort culminated with the publication of her most notable and recognized work, Alonso S. Perales: His Struggle for the Rights of Mexican Americans (1977).

Sloss-Vento supported the Chicano movement through her writings. She advocated Chicano Studies, the Spanish language, and supported the Raza Unida Party, the Texas Farm Workers Union, Cesar Chavez, and Mexican American student protestors in Elsa-Edcouch.

Adela Sloss-Vento’s lifetime of dedication to the LULAC cause was recognized in 1968, when she received a Pioneer Award at the Fifth Annual Statewide LULAC Founder’s Pioneers and Awards Banquet in San Antonio. Her efforts were similar to María L. de Hernández and Alice Dickerson Montemayor of the Mexican American civil rights movement though her work also spanned the Chicano movement. Adela Sloss-Vento died in Edinburg, Texas, on April 4, 1998.

 

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Cynthia E. Orozco, Agent of Change: Adela Sloss-Vento, Mexican American Civil Rights Activist and Texas Feminist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2020). Cynthia E. Orozco, No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009). Adela Sloss Vento, Alonso S. Perales: His Struggle for the Rights of Mexican-Americans (San Antonio: Artes Gráficas, 1977). Arnoldo Carlos Vento, Adela Sloss-Vento: Writer, Political Activist, and Civil Rights Pioneer (Lanham, Maryland: Hamilton Books, 2017).

Categories:
  • Journalism
  • Agriculture
  • Politics and Government
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Women
  • Civil Rights, Segregation, and Slavery
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II
Places:
  • South Texas
  • Valley Area
  • Southeast Texas
  • Gulf Coast Region

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cynthia E. Orozco and Jazmin León, “Vento, Adela Sloss,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/vento-adela-sloss.

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February 11, 2016
January 20, 2022

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