From The Huffington Post:
In 1937, while researching Haitian folklore for one of her books, Zora Neale Hurston witnessed a case where a woman who showed up in a village, and a family claimed that she was their relative who had died and been buried 20 years previously. However, upon being examined by a doctor, it was found that she didn’t have the same leg injury that the dead woman was known to have had. Despite this, Hurston wrote, “If science ever gets to the bottom of Voodoo in Haiti and Africa, it will be found that some important medical secrets, still unknown to medical science, give it its power, rather than gestures of ceremony.”
The hosts of this interview urge Hurston to talk about the zombie in her book, but initially, Hurston is very hesitant because she feels she has discussed zombies way too much in the past.
She eventually relents, explaining what zombies actually are: “A zombie is supposed to be the living dead: people who die and are resurrected, but without their souls. They can take orders, and they’re supposed to never be tired, and to do what the master says.”