Adela Sloss Vento, writer, 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 city of San Juan. She was involved in dismantling the red-light district located on the south side of town where the majority of the Mexicans 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. Together, they collaborated to document instances of discrimination against Mexican Americans. Sloss began submitting political essays to various Spanish-language periodicals that spoke out against discrimination and championed the work of Perales, Sáenz, and others. 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.”
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 to join, she participated in many of the organization’s activities, including the fundraising campaign for LULAC’s first legal desegregation fight, the Del Rio ISD v. Salvatierra case of the early 1930s. When LULAC finally allowed women to join as full-fledged members in 1933, Sloss cofounded (in Alice, Texas) a Ladies LULAC council which was comprised of herself, eight other single women, and fourteen married women. She quickly became a state LULAC leader and continued to submit articles to both English and Spanish-language newspapers across the state, including the Valley Morning Star, the Brownsville Herald, La Prensa in San Antonio, and La Verdad in Corpus Christi. These articles covered a variety of issues that specifically affected the ethnic Mexican community, including widespread poverty, the abuses suffered by migrant workers, the pervasive racism encountered by Mexican Americans, and the lack of attention these issues received from both the U. S. and Mexican governments. Although she never overtly claimed to be a feminist, much of her writing demonstrated otherwise. In 1934 she wrote an essay for LULAC News in which she objected to the perpetuation of the stereotype of the subservient Mexican woman.
In 1935 Adela Sloss married Pedro C. Vento, who fully supported her involvement in the Mexican American civil rights movement. During World War II, the couple lived in Corpus Christi, where Pedro Vento worked at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. Afterwards, they settled in Edinburg, Texas, where Pedro worked as a guard in the Hidalgo County jail and Adela served as the jail matron. They had two children, Irma Dora Vento and Arnoldo Carlos Vento.
Adela Sloss Vento continued her work as an activist, editorialist, public speaker, and political organizer throughout the 1940s. In the early 1950s she joined with Perales, Sáenz, and University of Texas professor Carlos E. Castañeda to organize the Texas Good Relations Association. She retired from her position as Hidalgo County jail matron in 1955, but continued to participate in grassroots-level politics and publish essays, editorials, and opinion pieces well into the 1970s. She also spent much of her time meticulously documenting and archiving the activities of LULAC and several of the organization’s founding members, including Alonso S. Perales. 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). This book, which has since become an important resource for Mexican American civil rights scholars, was written and edited with the help of her son, Arnold Carlos Vento, a professor of Spanish American and Mexican American literature at the University of Texas at Austin.
Adela Sloss Vento’s lifetime of dedication to LULAC 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. Since then, she has been studied extensively by Chicana scholars and placed alongside María L. de Hernández, Alice Dickerson Montemayor, and others as representative of a generation of Mexican American women involved in civil rights activity at the local level. Adela Sloss Vento died in Edinburg, Texas, on April 4, 1998.