Utah’s governor posted about Black History Month days after signing anti-DEI bill. The backlash was swift.

Hundreds have called out Gov. Spencer Cox for the celebratory post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. The governor faced swift pushback on social media on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2023, for posting in celebration of Black History Month, two days after signing into law a measure to unravel diversity, equity and inclusion programs across the state.

Two days after signing a bill to scrub diversity programs across the state, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox posted on social media in celebration of Black History Month — and faced immediate backlash.

“We honor the resilience, courage and contributions African Americans have made to our state and nation,” Cox said from his official account. “We celebrate Black communities and remain committed to improving access to opportunity.”

More than 200 commenters criticized the Republican governor Thursday over the timing of the message with his recent actions.

“The gall you have to have to post this today,” one person wrote.

“How are you not completely mortified by the anti-Black legislation you just signed a few days ago? That will be your legacy,” another added.

“Crazy how you’re saying this days after signing a bill that will actively hurt Black students in Utah,” said one individual.

The comments quickly outnumbered how many people had shared or liked the message on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Cox, who signed HB261 into law on Tuesday, has been vocal in the past few months in support of unraveling diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, programs in higher education and government. Starting in July, public schools will be required to remove references to diversity from their offices and open programs to all individuals, rather than support a specific underserved race.

A Black cultural center at a Utah K-12 school or college, for instance, will now need to also serve white students.

It’s been a marked departure from Cox’s previous efforts while in office to champion those efforts — including signing the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion that vows to address discrimination and hiring the first-ever senior advisor for equity and opportunity in the governor’s office.

In the fall, he began speaking out against diversity programs at the state’s eight public colleges and universities — suggesting they are “doing more to divide us than to bring us together.”

A week later, he drew attention for railing against “these diversity statements you have to sign to get hired” at schools in the state, calling them “bordering on evil.” All of Utah’s public colleges said they didn’t have those in the way the governor described, though some said they’ve previously asked applicants to describe their own beliefs on diversity in open-ended questions.

The schools also said they’ve provided data to the governor to show the positive impact those programs have had in improving retention and graduation rates for marginalized communities — particularly communities of color, but also female students and first-generation college students.

His shift further to the political right has come, though, as his first term as governor wraps up and while he seeks re-election for the top spot this year.

The governor’s post was quickly flooded with pushback. Several individuals responded by quoting Cox’s past statements and comparing them to what the governor has said recently. Others called him a “liar” and a “hypocrite.”

Some questioned whether colleges, going forward, will be able to celebrate Black History Month with events on campus under the new law.

State Sen. Nate Blouin, D-Salt Lake City, wrote: “Once again, actions speak louder than words.”

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Salt Lake Tribune on the post, but the tweet was liked by his spokesperson, his senior advisor of community outreach and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson.