This from Atlas Obscura - Zombies have infested our culture. There are zombie movies by the hundreds, zombie literature by the thousands and one extremely popular zombie television show, The Walking Dead. For the most part, though, these ubiquitous undead eaters of flesh are used to entertain, joke and help teach emergency preparedness. However, the origin of zombies is a lot more somber: it emerged from the brutal world of 17th century Haitian slavery.
In fact, Christopher Columbus is directly responsible for the entry of zombies into the New World. In December of 1492, the explorer and colonizer landed on Hispaniola. He proclaimed the island in the name of Spain and quickly enslaved the native peoples, just as he had done when he had landed two months earlier on today’s Bahamas. But just 20 years after Columbus had arrived, the population of “Indians” decreased from 300,000 in 1492 to 20,000. A new influx of slaves was needed. When the first boat of African slaves were brought to Hispaniola, in 1502, the seeds for today's zombie invasion were planted.
In case you need it- check out The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead