Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted his concerns for the "parallel problems" of civil rights and economic inequality Sunday in the wake of a kerfuffle with "Black Lives Matter" protesters at a conference last week.

"I was there to speak about immigration reform, and some people started disrupting the meeting," the Vermont Democrat said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

But Sanders denied he had a confrontation with the protesters, noting he "strongly shares" their concerns.

"I've been involved in the civil rights movement all of my life," Sanders said.

"We have to deal with the reality that 50 percent of young black kids are unemployed," he added.

The Democratic presidential candidate cited a racially-motivated shooting in Charleston, S.C., last month in his charge to "rid this country of racism."

Sanders, a self-described socialist, has attracted large crowds to campaign events across the country as controversies have continued to bog down Hillary Clinton's campaign.

The Black Lives Matter movement emerged from a shooting in Ferguson, Mo., last year and has challenged what protesters see as entrenched racism in the law enforcement system.

Activists involved in the movement also interrupted former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, also a Democratic presidential candidate, at the same conference last week.

Sanders continued hitting his popular campaign points and blasted income inequality Sunday, a popular theme of his campaign so far.