Cicilline Statement on the Passing of Rhode Island Icon Michael Van Leesten

PAWTUCKET – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) released the following statement today following the death of Michael Van Leesten, a champion for civil rights and community leader:


“I’m heartbroken to hear about the passing of my friend, Michael Van Leesten.  Rhode Island has lost a civil rights icon and an extraordinary community leader, successful businessman, and beloved community builder. As a young man, Mike was a standout athlete and a neighborhood advocate in every sense of the word. He used all of his positions of leadership and the many organizations he founded and led to become a relentless warrior for social and economic justice.”


“As a member of the General Assembly, as Mayor of Providence, and as a member of Congress, I have had the privilege of working with Mike in many different ways and seeing firsthand the impact of his efforts.  He was always guided by a deep commitment to improve the lives of his community, particularly the young people of Providence.  Mike’s work in advancing civil rights and his success in business and economic development were fueled by a determined commitment to improving the lives and opportunities of Rhode Islanders.”


“He will be sorely missed by the countless people whose lives he touched, but his legacy will live on through each of us who know just how extraordinary he was.  My thoughts and prayers are with his entire family tonight.”