Michael Van Leesten, a Rhode Island civil rights icon has died at the age of 80.

Van Leesten was known as a leading business leader and civil rights advocate for over 50 years.

Rhode Island leaders took to Twitter to share their memory of Van Leesten and the legacy he left behind. 




Van Leesten was first known throughout Rhode Island as a star basketball player at Rhode Island College where he graduated from in 1965.

Throughout his life Van Leesten worked in various roles and positions.

Some of those include serving as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and serving as chairman of the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation.

He has also held leadership positions in NAACP.

Funeral arrangements for Van Leesten have been arranged for Thursday, August 29 at The First Unitarian Church of Providence.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019