Pryor, originally from Camden, represented Arkansas in the U.S. Senate in 1979-'97 after one term as governor of the state. Before being elected governor in 1974, he was a four-term U.S. representative. His career in politics began with his 1960 election to the Arkansas House.
Since retiring from the Senate, Pryor became a Fulbright Distinguished Fellow of Law and Public Affairs, a lecturer in public policy at the Blair Center of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Politics at Lyon College in Batesville.
Pryor was a Fellow and subsequent director at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has been a member of the boards of Winrock International and of the First Commercial Corporation. He presently is a managing director of Herrington, an investment firm in Little Rock, and a consultant at the Federal Express Corporation. He is a member of the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
Pryor has an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Arkansas and honorary doctorates from Lyon, Henderson State University and Hendrix College. He is a former trustee of the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation and was the first dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
As a senator he chaired the Senate Special Committee on Aging and was a member of the Senate Agricultural Committee, the Senate Finance Committee (chair of the IRS Oversight Committee) and the Senate Ethics Committee.
His autobiography "A Pryor Commitment" was published in 2008.
He and his wife Barbara are founders of the Barbara and David Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas.