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Charles Fuller Jr., the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "A Soldier's Play," from which the motion picture "A Soldier's Story" was adapted, rented billboard space throughout Philadelphia last month in an effort to encourage young blacks in that city to stay in school.

Mr. Fuller undertook the private dropout-prevention project with his son, Charles 3rd, and his brother, Walter. He had reportedly come up with the idea after watching a television broadcast in which young blacks equated academic success with "acting white."

According to an official of the billboard company, Steen Outdoor Advertising Co., the 20 signs rented by the family were posted primarily in neighborhoods with large minority populations. Depicting a young black man and black woman in graduation caps and gowns, the billboards bore the message: "Young people: stay free, take pride in yourselves, and GRADUATE!!"

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