Note: This is the sixth installment of WCBS 880’s Black History Month series.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Coming this fall to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“To understand America, you’ve gotta understand the African American experience,” the museum’s founding director Lonnie Bunch told WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving. “Traditionally, when one views African-American culture, they view it as ancillary, as secondary, as outside of the mainstream.”

But Bunch said it’s central to the American identity.

“Values like spirituality, optimism, resiliency, if you want to understand how America’s notions of citizenship, of equality, have evolved over time, where better to look than the African American community?” Bunch said.

President Barack Obama will cut the ribbon to open the museum on Sept. 24.