Steve Ralston was born in San Francisco and received his B.A. and JD from U.C. Berkeley. In 1964, he went to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc, in New York. He was on the legal team that defended demonstrators in Alabama and that brought the lawsuit that allowed the Selma to Montgomery March to take place in 1965. He handled cases involving employment and housing discrimination, voting rights, school desegregation, jury discrimination, and capital punishment.

In 2002, he returned to the Bay Area.  He now lives in Mi Wuk Village with his wife and continues to work on civil rights cases. He volunteers at Railtown 1897 State Park in Jamestown, where he indulges his life-long love of and fascination with steam locomotives.  In March, 2015, he returned to Selma and participated in the commemorative march led by President Obama.