Malcolm’s critique of the black bourgeoisie and traditional black leaders, and his strong identification with the poorest of black folks, propelled him to Left wing organizations. The attraction was mutual. Just as the Communist Party had been drawn to Garveyism in the 1920s because they saw so many black working people in the movement and believed it could be transformed into a revolutionary organization, Trotskyites and other Leftists noticed the large numbers of black proletarians flocking to the NOI. As early as 1961, Malcolm established working relationships with several left-wing organizations, and in 1962 spoke at an 1199 rally and shared the podium with A. Philip Randolph and several Puerto Rican labor activists. He eventually gained a small following of radical Marxists, mostly Trotskyites in the Socialist Workers Party. Malcolm convinced some SWP members of the revolutionary potential of ordinary black slum dwellers, and he began to speak more critically of capitalism.
He also began developing an independent “Third World” political perspective, although he showed signs of such a perspective at least a decade earlier, when anti-colonial wars and decolonization were pressing public issues. As early as 1954, Malcolm gave a speech comparing the situation in Vietnam with that of the Mau Mau rebellion in colonial Kenya, framing both of these movements as uprisings of the “Darker races” creating a “Tidal Wave” against U.S. and European imperialism. Indeed, Africa remained his primary political interest outside of black America.