A Chicana Activist Gets Long Overdue Recognition In ‘Agent Of Change’

The new biography delves into the life of Adela Sloss-Vento, who advocated for Mexican-Americans’ rights.

By Leah Scarpelli, Alexandra Hart & Samantha Carrizal February 10, 2020 1:35 pm, , ,

Adela Sloss-Vento was a writer, feminist, activist and leader who advocated for Mexican-Americans in the Lower Rio Grande valley. But hers is not household name.

Cynthia Orozco, a history professor at Eastern New Mexico University, is trying to change that with her new book “Agent of Change.”

Sloss-Vento became an activist when she joined the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, after high school. Much of her activism was though writing, she says.

“She wrote numerous newspaper articles [in] English and Spanish against segregated schools,” Orozco says.

Sloss-Vento also encouraged Chicana women to expand their day-to-day lives beyond homemaking, and participate in civic groups.

Orozco says Sloss-Vento wrote her own book in the 1970s, but it didn’t gain much publicity, and her story effectively disappeared from Texas history. But Orozco says it’s not just just Sloss-Vento, whom writers left out of Texas history books. Stories of Latino activists, in general, are hard to come by. She says LULAC, a prominent Latino activist group, is barely mentioned.

“Texas history books need to upgrade and include,” Orozco says.

“Agent of Change” is partly a personal project for Orozco because she met Sloss-Vento when she was an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin. Orozco used Sloss-Vento’s archives for research, and says she only talked about the work of other activists, not her own.

“She only talked about the male leaders, and never told me that she, too, was so important to this effort,” Orozco says.


Written by Caroline Covington.